“In A Christmas Carol, Dickens delivers strong criticisms of the society in which he lives. Discuss”
A Christmas Carol written by one of the most influential social reform novelists of the nineteenth century, Charles Dickens, delivers very harsh criticisms of Victorian London. Dickens presents these criticisms through the behaviour of the novella’s protagonist, Ebenezer Scrooge. His character displays everything that Dickens perceives as being wrong in Victorian society. His treatment of the poor and destitute, the treatment of his employee Bob Crachit and the weak relationships he keeps with family are all indirect criticisms by the renowned author, Dickens.
The poor in Victorian London were left in very poor living conditions, and were essentially ignored by the upper class. There was a huge segregation between the lower class and upper class. Dickens implies that those with excessive wealth and power had a responsibility to take care of those less fortunate than themselves. This idea is explored between the relationship of Scrooge and his clerk, Bob Crachit. Scrooge is completely ignorant of his responsibilities and duties to Crachit. When asked what donations Scrooge would like to give to the poor, he simply states “Nothing!”. This shows that Scrooge (and the upper class society) simply have no compassion or consideration for the poor living below them.
The children ignorance and want are an addition by dickens to send a simple message, to help out those in want, and beware of ignorance in oneself and others. The main protagonist of the story, Ebenezer Scrooge embodies the worst qualities of Victorian society. Obsessed with accumulating wealth and with no concern for his beleaguered employee, Scrooge is an allegorical representation of the forces of capitalism driving the industrial economy at the time.
The treatment of loved ones and relationships are key in A Christmas Carol. The main relationship emphasized by Dickens is the relationship between Scrooge and his nephew, Fred. Scrooge does not even slightly value his relationship with Fred. He refuses any affection or invitations given by Fred, shows no interest in Fred’s life and does not show any remorse towards these actions. This is also a criticism by Dickens. He is implying that the excessive and overbearing need for wealth and power ruin the relationships shared between people. In Scrooge, this is not only shown through his lack of a relationship with Fred, but also with his relationship with Belle, and ultimately its downfall.
The festive and face value of A Christmas Carol provides an entertaining and light-hearted story for readers. However, beneath this heart-warming transformation of a character there are strong criticisms of Victorian society delivered by Dickens. He criticizes the way that the poor are left to fend for themselves in terrible conditions, the way the poor are treated by the upper class tear of society, and through the use of weak value placed relationships with family and friends during the time. Dickens novella was intended to point out the flaws in the society in which he lived and make it’s readers aware and cautious of these near fatal traits.