Often time’s people get set in their ways, and it is hard for them to see themselves as others do. For most people to change their behavior, a significant emotional event must take place. For example, people who contract an illness such as cancer often make radical changes in their lifestyle and behavior when confronted with the fragility of life. In literature, change is often accompanied by great drama such as A Christmas Carol where the character Ebenezer Scrooge tries to find out who he is.
In A Christmas Carol, Dickens uses the supernatural to dramatize the need for Ebenezer Scrooge to change from miser to socially responsible citizen.At the start of the novella, Scrooge is a bitter man who is obsessed with money and completely shuts himself from society. Scrooge is defined as a “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner,” (2). It identifies him as a man with no heart and does not give a care about others in the world. During the time where we read about Scrooge talking with his nephew, Fred, we learn about Scrooge’s obvious hate for Christmas. To him, Christmas is nothing but a “Humbug” (3) or hypocrisy.
Scrooge gives a speech about why people should not like Christmas and says “Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding,” (3-4). As if Scrooge didn’t get his point across, he tells Fred to “keep Christmas in [him] own way, and let [Scrooge] keep it in [his],” (4). As Fred leaves, two portly gentlemen walk in looking for donations. Scrooge does not want to give up his money so he firmly states that he will give them “Nothing! ” (6).
Even though he has a lot of money, he says that he “can’t afford to make idle people merry,” (6).As Scrooge argues with the men about how the poor could live in prisons or go to the Union workhouses, one of the gentlemen says that many of the people would rather die than go to those places. Being the mean old man he is, Scrooge has the nerve to say “If they would rather die they had better get to it, and decrease the surplus population,” (6). Scrooge acts like this with all people, even his clerk. While Scrooge had a small fire going in his office, “the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal,” (3). Even after the old business owner died, “Scrooge never painted over Old Marley’s name,” (2).Eventually when we read about where Scrooge lives, we find that it is very old and gloomy.
Since Scrooge does not like to spend money, he does not pay for lighting for “darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it,” (9-10). Scrooge is a cheapskate and wants nothing to do with the general public. As the novella progresses, the Christmas “Ghosts” or “Spirits” explain the consequences of Scrooge’s past, present, and his future should he continue in his evil ways. When Scrooge is visited by his past, we find Scrooge starting to feel again.Seeing his old boss, Fezziwig, brought back memories and “Scrooge had acted like a man out of his wits,” (26). His heart and soul were in the scene,” (26) as he starts to reflect back on the good memories then. Scrooge is reminded about how much he used to welcome and appreciate Fezziwig and how he “remembered everything, enjoyed everything, and underwent the strangest agitation,” (26).
Later, as the Ghost of Christmas Present visits Scrooge, he is taken to the house of Bob Cratchit. As Scrooge sees how they live and learns about Tiny Tim’s condition, he asks the Ghost, “with an interest he had never felt before,” (40) whether or not Tiny Tim will live.The Ghost replies that Tiny Tim will not live if the future is not altered.
Scrooge does not accept this answer and pleads with the Spirit by saying “Say he will be spared! ” (40). When the scene ends, Scrooge is “overcome with penitence and grief,” (40). The Ghost of Christmas Future comes in and shows Scrooge how life would be when he died. As Scrooge is listening to how no one cares that he dies and how they treat him, he “listens to the dialogue in horror,” (56).
“Shuddering from head to toe,” (56) Scrooge now starts to realize the penalty of his actions.Seeing himself lying on an uncurtained bed, Scrooge “recoiled in terror,” (56) for he realized that he did not want to die alone and that that was not the life he wanted to live. The grave yard scene was the final nail to the coffin, showing him what was to be. Scrooge has now realized what he has done, and begs for the change to change the future. When given the chance to redeem himself, Scrooge applies his new way of thinking to amend all the damage he has caused and become the person in society he was meant to be. Christmas morning comes and Scrooge scrambles out of bed.At the beginning of his day, “he went to church,” (66) so that he could become a part of the community and ask for forgiveness.
After church, he “questioned beggars” (66) because he wanted to show interest with them and help them out by giving them money. Walking along the streets, Scrooge “looked into the kitchens of other houses,” (66) so that he could make sure everybody had something to eat on the Christmas holiday. Later in the day, Scrooge goes to visit his nephew. Standing upon the doorstep, “he passed the door a dozen times, before he had the courage to go up and knock.
This shows that he is worried about his nephew’s current opinion of him and how Scrooge wants to change it. Fred forgave Scrooge for everything and “he was at home in five minutes,” (67). He is saying that despite everything he had done in the past, the fact that Fred still invites Scrooge into his house means something to him and he knew that he was home. To Scrooge, “nothing could be heartier,” (67) than having a family and being welcomed in at any time. At the beginning of the novella, Scrooge wants credit for everything and does not want to share.Now, after seeing the way the Cratchits’ live, Scrooge bugs the biggest turkey to give to them and says “He sha’n’t know who sends it,” (64).
Then, Scrooge runs into the portly gentlemen from the other day and whispers something in his ear. The man cried out “as if his breath were gone” (66) for Scrooge had just made a generous donation after feeling compelled to do so. Walking into his store, Scrooge pretends to be mad at Bob Cratchit for being late to work, but then says that he will “raise [his] salary, and endeavor to assist [his] struggling family,” (68).Scrooge has been given the chance to prove his worth and succeeds. With a smile on his face and a spring in his step and a song in his heart a radiant Ebenezer Scrooge lifts the spirits of young and old alike through his charity and cheerfulness.
The transformation of Scrooge is nearly as breathtaking as the reaction of those who now experience his new found heart. Transformation is enabled by belief and as Scrooge believed in himself the town also needed to believe in his ability to change. Dickens’ made this possible by with the three ghosts whose spirit form changed Scrooge’s reality.