How does Dickens use imagery and language to present the character of Ebenezer Scrooge in Stave one of ‘A Christmas Carol? ‘ Charles Dickens started writing ‘A Christmas Carol’ in the 18th Century. Whilst writing the novel he was experiencing a world that had totally forgotten about Christmas and had no time for it. It was the industrial revolution, things were changing and with it the people were. They did not have time to enjoy Christmas they were more bothered about earning money. This is the kind of character Scrooge is which I will explain later on.
Being in this kind of world affected Dickens novel; but it also influenced him to create a character called Scrooge. Who wouldn’t care about Christmas; and only caring for business and money. Dickens knew that if he could get people into the Christmas spirit by attracting their attention to his novel. But little did he know he was about to re-inject the Christmas spirit into Britain. Dickens kicks off his extravagant novel by introducing a dead character with the name of Marley who he chose to create as a Ghost. By starting off his novel like this Dickens is directly addressing the reader – by using the word ‘You’:
‘You will therefore permit me to repeat emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail’. By addressing the reader like this it automatically draws the reader into the story as though they are experiencing what Dickens is trying to make them experience – by making them apart of the story by being addressed directly. It also makes the reader want to know more for example they might want to know why Marley is dead and therefore this makes them read on. The main character of the novel is named Scrooge. He is present by dickens as a: ‘Squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching,
covetous old sinner! ‘ By doing this it makes the reader think that Scrooge is an old, mean, miserable man. Of which has no friends in existence – excluding his past. Dickens mentions that Scrooge is: ‘Squeezing’ Meaning that he would ‘Squeeze’ every last drop out of anything he could, not only money but make people work over their limit. For example Bob Cratchit, his apprentice would work as hard as he could each day, and make Scrooge feel that Bob hasn’t got away with easy money.
Scrooge is described by Dickens in many different ways; for example Dickens compares him with other things:’External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, nor wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he. ‘ In this small paragraph dickens has used a good use of imagery – weather imagery. He compares Scrooge with the weather and shows that he a cold person who could never be warm hearted. Dickens shows that Scrooge has no feeling, nothing can chill him, and nothing can warm him. Scrooge is immensely described as worse than the weather: ‘No wind that blew was bitter than he’ This meaning nothing could be worse than Scrooge; Dickens insults his own character with no grief.
Nothing could be worse than having Scrooge on your case – he is bitterer than the wind. Dickens goes on to downgrade Scrooge to nothing by saying rain, show, hail and sleet could: ‘Boast an advantage over him, they often came down handsomely and Scrooge never did’. This meaning that the weather could come down gently and calmly but Scrooge is an old man who is not gentle or calm instead fierce and very uptight. Myself as a reader I would feel that Scrooge is an old hag who is most likely very lonely and despises everyone but himself; and that he is very selfish and would never spare a penny to anyone but himself.
I would also feel that Dickens is trying to get across a strong description of Scrooge. When Dickens was describing Scrooge a key line is: ‘The cold within him froze his old features’. The line above has no meaning, for example it adds to his description and as a reader it could feel as though the cold within him has frozen his good side like an ice age. It exists inside him but he can’t release it. Another example is: ‘Hard and sharp as a flint’ This is a simile; it shows two sides of Scrooge. Flint is a rock; which was used by humans in the Stone Age.
It was used for two things, which shows two sides of Scrooge. They used it for warmth which shows that Scrooge could have a good side in him, and they also used it for weapons, to harm things i. e. a tool could cut you. This shows the bad side of Scrooge – he is two faced. Once the reader hears about Scrooge’s appearance, we think as if Scrooge was a ghost, or he was dead with his corpse still existing. Dickens uses adjectives like: ‘Blue lips’ ‘Red eyes’ These lines make us think as if Scrooge was dead because he has frozen lips and bloodshot eyes as if he doesn’t sleep.
It makes the reader feel aware of how dangerously scary Scrooge looks to go with his attitude and lifestyle. The place in which Scrooge’s house is situated also shows his personality. His house is away from other houses and is in the middle of a business district. Also, inside his house it is dark and gloomy he double locks the doors as if to lock himself away form the world. His house sets the scene for later in the novel. His house reminds the reader of a haunted house; linking Scrooge with his description of being like a ghost. Scrooge doesn’t like Christmas.
The word which he uses to sum up Christmas is: ‘Humbug’ Meaning nonsense. Scrooge makes a speech about Christmas to his nephew, part of it is: ‘Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, and not an hour richer’ This sums up what he feels about Christmas. He doesn’t see the fun side of it, or the religious side of celebrating a special time in the Christian faith. He just looks at the gloomy side, and thinks it is a waste of time.
Also Scrooge talks bout money, saying you find yourself a year older, and not an hour richer, and also saying it is just a time where you have to pay the bills showing again he is thinking bout his money and nothing else. Scrooge also says that the poor don’t have a right to be happy: ‘What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough. ‘ He’s saying that the poor should be unhappy, that they are not rich enough to be happy, and that they should be gloomy and sad and not have the right to have a good time.
This shocks the reader. Before, the reader just feels that Scrooge is gloomy and lonely, but now they feel as though Scrooge is a cold-hearted, nasty, mean old man who doesn’t care about anybody but himself. Later in the novel we find out more about why Scrooge may be like this. I think Scrooge thinks this way about Christmas because of how he was treated by his father when he was a child. His father used to leave him alone and not take him home from boarding school but leave him there in a dull little room reading books.
Scrooge once fell in love with a woman called Bell. This brought the Christmas spirit into him but then they broke up and that made Scrooge go back to hating Christmas. When people saw Scrooge in the street nobody would stop him to talk, everyone would leave him alone and not dare speak to him. ‘Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would their tails as thought they said, ‘no eye at all is better than an evil eye’ This sentence shows what everyone thought of Scrooge.