Examine how dickens uses the supernatural as a vehicle for change in ‘A Christmas Carol’. In your response analyse Marley’s ghost and one other haunting. Consider theme, language and dramatic devices. A Christmas Carol is built upon numerous contrasts: rich and poor, family and loneliness, generosity and miserliness, affection and cruelty, past, present and future. Most of these contrasting forces are brought to light within the character of Scrooge himself. The compulsive, lonely, miserly man, who eats his abstemious meals in the shadows, emerges from his cold-heartedness into a generous, fun loving, warm and caring man.
Dickens uses a lot of rich contrasting imagery within the character Scrooge to prepare the reader for his conversion well before the concluding chapter. Though there are many elements that led to Charles Dickens writing a Christmas Carol, for example the Ragged Schools, the Manchester athenaeum and Dickens’ first-hand experiences with industrialism and prison on his recent American tour, I feel that the single most important and influential factor lay in Dickens observations of the suffering, deep in the heart of London’s poor, that children were being seduced to.
It has been said by many at the time that sex was the only affordable pleasure for the poor, the result of course was thousands of children living in unimaginable poverty, filth and disease. Dickens’ felt that the only answer to breaking the endless cycle of poverty was education and so he became interested in Ragged Schools. Ragged schools were free to attend and run through charity, this gave even the poorest of children a glimpse of hope to break the cycle.
Despite the availability of these schools, a lot of poor children did not benefit due to the demand for child labour and apathy of parents. Dickens introduces children like those that he saw in a Christmas Carol through the allegorical twin, ignorance and want. The ghost of Christmas present presents them, wretched and almost animal like, to scrooge with the warning “this boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware of them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware of this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is doom, unless the writing be erased.
” These children are grimy and thin, the kind of children Scrooge would walk past on the street without a second thought. They are shown to him in such an appalling manor that Scrooge begs to help them, “have they no refuge or resource? ” and he is reminded of the coldness of his words earlier in the story. They are shown to him I believe because, like he would be after his death, he is powerless to help them and this causes outstanding amounts of guilt to whelm up within Scrooge. I also believe the twins had another message, though this time not for Scrooge.
Dickens wanted to make all the readers of A Christmas Carol, the warm and tender Christmas novella, aware of the fact that it was based on the poor and starving, Dickens wanted to warm the heart of the public but also get them to reach out to the young and starving children on London’s street, which like Scrooge they just walk past every day. The twins are very powerful in getting this message across as the reader could not just ignore the fact that they are just as bad as Scrooge if they do nothing to help. There are four ghosts in “A Christmas Carol”.
There is Jacob Marley. Marley ghost is warning scrooge that if he doesn’t change his character. He too will be burdened in his afterlife. The spirit also foretells the appearance of three more ghosts. Marley is described with a “ponytail, usual waistcoat, tights, and boots, the tassels on the latter bristling, like his ponytail, and his coat skirts and the hair upon his head. Completing Marley’s outfit was his chain which he drew which was clasped about his middle. He makes it clear to scrooge that he will, like Jacob, be made to wear the chain that he “forged” in life.
The chain is described vividly in the text, and it is all linked because of Scrooges job, “it was made of cashboxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds and heavy purses wrought in steel. ” The third ghost is the “Ghost of Christmas present. ” This ghost is rather different to the other three as it is more human like than ghostly, also it is more pleasant as in my mind I could easily compare him to the Santa Claus that I once believe in. Dickens give a very detailed description of this ghost, I think he does this to create a vivid picture in the readers mind as this chapters message is not just for Scrooge.
It is described that he was clothed in one simple green robe bordered with white fur. The robe hangs loosely on his frame and his chest is bare, I think the ghost is portrayed like this to show that he is at easy with the world. It is also said that this ghost has sparkling eyes and a joyful air; I think this is because Christmas should be a cheery time and this Ghost is an allegory for Christmas. This is once again a warning ghost. A ghost who is there to make clear to Scrooge that his actions are not just affecting himself but also others around him.