Themes from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
In the timeless tale, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens focuses upon the extreme transformation of a character named Ebenezer Scrooge. The fact that several moralistic themes can be applied throughout the novel confirms why it is a classic.
The first significant alteration of Scrooge’s character occurred when he was a young man, as he became increasingly involved in the occupation of business, where wealth and assets are subjects of great examination and often possessiveness. Described and portrayed as an avaricious, bitter, and solitary man, Scrooge is introduced as critically immoral, occupied constantly by business. Christmas, as the faithful celebrate it, is referred to by Scrooge as a humbug, or fraud. On the topic of a merry Christmas, as his nephew related to it, Scrooge declared that an individual as poor as Fred has little or nothing to be merry about. In one of the most disturbing quotations from Scrooge, he casually remarks to two gentlemen requesting donations for the poor, “if [idle people] would rather die [than attend prisons and workhouses], they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population” (11). Scrooge accuses Bob Cratchit of being greedy for requesting Christmas as a day to retreat from work to be with his family, when in fact it is he who is greedy, essentially concerned with profits, not people. Orally, this point is perhaps best illustrated in the Past when the girl he once loved more than money, Belle, declared that, “a [golden] idol has displaced me” (37). Fully aware that Scrooge’s priorities are deranged, and he has been degraded to worship wealth rather than valuing the qualities of human love, Belle leaves him.
The intensification of Scrooge’s wrongdoing leads to the apparitions and chilling noises that spook him, and eventually force him to acknowledge the magnitude of his sins. The first occasion on which the reader witnesses the hallucinations of Scrooge, is when he sees the ghostly face of the seven-year-deceased Jacob Marley, in the knocker of the door to his home. The image compelled Scrooge to inspect the rooms of his house, and to lock his door uncustomarily. But that did not stop Marley’s ghost from making a noisy entrance. The phantom wore a chain of cash boxes, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel, for he was Scrooge’s unappreciated business partner of many years; Scrooge conducted his business even on the day of Marley’s funeral. Hearing the haunting, disoriented sounds of sorrow and regret, Scrooge was impelled by the ghost of Marley to witness a serious of phantoms who also wore chains, for they were victims of Scrooge’s selfishness.
Scrooge is not only haunted by specters, but also by the dialogue spoken from others who have experienced the reality of the dreadful aspects of his character, and by the abrasive words of the spirits. In the Present, Scrooge listens as Mrs. Cratchit abruptly denounces him...