Charles Dickens was born on 7th December 1812 in Portsmouth. His father was called John and he was a navy clerk. He was very kind hearted and unfortunately he was very often in debt. Charles was the second eldest of nine children, the family moved to Chatham from London and then back to London in 1822. Two years later Dickens was ten, he had to go and work in a blacking factory. He had to work twelve hours a day for just thirty pence a week. This was a shock to the system as Dickens had not had to experience this type of poverty before.
This was a very difficult time for Dickens as conditions were terrible for him and he had to work with unpleasant people, one of whom Dickens used to model Fagin in Oliver Twist. Dickens felt helpless and sad as he was unable to utilize his talents, this period of his life gave him a real insight into what it was to be poor. Around this time Dickens’ father was imprisoned in Marshalsea Prison, which was a debtors prison. Dickens lived in lodgings and would go on Sundays, with his family, to the prison to visit his father.
Dickens felt abandoned and a sense of shame, de developed an understanding and sympathy for those in poverty. He also developed a dislike of the ignorance towards poverty of “so-called” respectable, church-going people. These experiences stayed with Dickens for life and are very evident in his writing. It was from experiences like this that he gets his inspiration for his novels, in some of them he tries to redeem the rich people who think the poor are not their problem, like Scrooge. In 1827 Scrooge became a solicitors clerk, like Bob Cratchit.
In 1829 he became a freelance reporter, then in 1834 he worked for the Morning Chronicle as a writer. In 1836 he published his Pickwick Papers, this made him famous and wealthy. In the Autumn of 1843 he wrote Christmas Carol, by this time Dickens had learned to write very fast, the book was published by Christmas. Dickens described poverty in three ways; moral, spiritual and material. He presents poverty in these three images in an attempt to make the reader aware of the different types of poverty that society suffers and to create a strong effect on the reader.
Page 57 shows examples of moral poverty. This is because the spirit shows Scrooge two children called Ignorance and Want. The spirit says that these two children belong to ‘Man’, this implies that humans have spent so long being selfish and greedy and ignoring things that don’t matter to them, that this has produced a social class that is engulfed in poverty and at times cannot feed itself. The spirit also implies that if things carry on this way, that the human race will be doomed.
This is moral poverty because it indicates that people only cared for themselves and were deliberately ignorant to the lives and the needs of the poor. They had little regard for anything other than their own want. A further example can be found on page 10 where Scrooge is talking to his nephew, Fred. Fred is explaining to Scrooge that Christmas should be a period of being charitable, pleasant, kind and forgiving. Scrooge however disagrees with this completely. He believes that it is a time that is used by the poor just to get money and receive charity. An example of spiritual poverty can be found on page 27.