Charles Dickens writing has had a colossal influence on millions of people by using what Victorian London and major cities of time were like. Through his novels he campaigned for the poor. Charles Dickens’ childhood was blighted by his father’s financial problems but by the end he was lecturing about his works to large and enthusiastic audiences. Driven by a need to separate himself from early poverty and by a desire to help those children who were as poor as he had been.
Charles Dickens was born on Friday, February 7th 1812 at No. 1 Mile End Terrace, Landport; when the Industrial Revolution was gathering pace. As Charles Dickens grew up many large family groups living in villages were breaking up and moving to towns either singly or as nuclear families. Perhaps Dickens had a fear of the breaking up of the family group in the changing times. The bond of the family is shown for example when the Cratchits gather at Christmas; phrases like “Bob hugged his daughter to his hearts content. ” are used.
At age of 12 Dickens was removed from school and sent to work in a boot-blacking factory earning six shillings a week to help support the family. Charles considered the period to be the most terrible time in his life and would later write that he wondered ‘how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age’ despair in his tone. This childhood poverty could have been an enormous influence on Dickens’ later views on social reform and the world he created through his novels. Dickens emphasised the big difference between family life and those who lived alone.
He seems to try and show that happy people live in families for example this is shown when Mrs. Crachit greets Martha with obverse joy. “Why bless your heart alive, my dear, how late you are”. He suggests that sad people live alone. He starts the book ‘A Christmas Carol’ with death “Marley was dead. ” This is a grim start. He shows Scrooge as the “sole executor, administrator, assign, legatee, friend and mourner. ” He also adds about the death of Hamlet’s father to increase the gloom.
The book starts by pouring on the solitude and gloom of scrooge’s situation with the absence of a families love. Charles Dickens chose the Christmas time of year because it is a family time where many families split up by work join together to see and rejoice with one another. In the novel the Christmas season and children the families are linked to one another. The first cheerful words are from the Christmas greetings from Scrooge’s nephew “cried a cheerful voice”. This is followed by an argument of the value of Christmas between the Nephew and Scrooge.
Scrooge talks of boiling people who like Christmas “in their own pudding”. Scrooge’s nephew then argues how much a good thing Christmas is “I believe that it has done me good” Scrooges’ nephew believes Christmas even though an expensive time for the rich is a good time for the poor families in the major cities of the time and gives Scrooge’s nephew a happy feeling of what goes on at Christmas. A few pages deeper into stave 2 Scrooge is taken back to his childhood by the Ghost of Christmas Past and sees all of his childhood friends and remembers the road they are on.
The Ghost asks if Scrooge recollects where they are and Scrooge’s reply is a surprise “I could walk it blindfold said Scrooge” “strange to have forgotten it for so many years! Replied the Spirit” Scrooge had blocked out his childhood because it was a sad and poor time for him. Scrooge was seeing “these boys were in great spirits”. This implies that children represent joy and have appreciation for life making everything happy. Scrooge was thinking that he had watched these boys but had never been one himself.
He was the “solitary child, neglected by his friends”. The importance and affection of families is shown when his sister takes him home. Also the joy of children is shown. As she is “bending down to laugh” she talks of, home being quote “home’s like heaven”. An important figure in the story is his sister a child who Scrooge has affection for in his memory, this laughter pops up again. “To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature would have been a surprise to his business friends”.
Suddenly emotions are pouring out of Scrooge and he is excited because his inner child has had a slight play. Skipping to stave 3 and Tiny Tim who is a small boy with the power of delivering the message of Jesus. “God bless us everyone”. The picture of Tiny Tim greatly affects Scrooge who now sees the prejudice in his opinions. When the Crachit family celebrates Christmas they revel in each others company love and appreciate the things they have. They are unlike the stereotypical Victorian image of the working class commonly held at this period of time.
“Alas Tiny Tim he bore a little crutch … his limbs supported by an Iron Frame” Tiny Tim, their small crippled son will die with out the treatment needed. He is a small symbol of society failing to provide for the poor. The picture of Tiny Tim greatly affects Scrooge and he begins to realize how prejudice his opinions really are. The irony of his own words, spoken to him by the Ghost of Christmas Present “if he is to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. ” Children are yet again used to show social problems in society.
A boy and girl called Ignorance and Want are used to show the problems they were “wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable” Scrooge is also shocked by the sight of Ignorance and Want, two children so named because of the treatment they received from society. Dickens is speaking to the reader at this point. Society is ignorant of the peoples needs. People are in want of basic supplies of food and drink, clothing and shelter. One example of this change in Scrooge is when he realises Tiny Tim has died. “Tell me what man that was whom we saw lying dead?
” This then leads to a demonstration by the spirit of Christmas yet to come of Scrooges own death, this part of the text increases Scrooges realization of the significance of Tiny Tim’s death. Throughout the story, Scrooge has numerous warnings of his future from the people he meets, his nephew, Marley, the spirits, Belle etc. Although from the beginning of his acquaintance with the first Ghost, Scrooge’s gradual change is clearly perceptible, it is the spectacle of his own death, which makes him realize he must change his ways. On Christmas morning Scrooge wakes up and is cheerful.
“I am as happy as an angel” Scrooge has ‘Christmas fever’ and acts as if he was a child, he becomes generous sending Bob Crachit the prized turkey and promising the boy half a crown for buying the turkey. Does this show the sort of attitude Dickens’s wants in society? The end of the novel contrasts well with the beginning. The story has a very typical fairy tale ending and a clear moral to the story. Scrooge has under gone a metamorphosis. Does Scrooge’s change symbolize the change in society that Dickens wanted?. Tiny Tim will live and so will everyone else, happily ever after. By Thomas Bailey 10CHB English Coursework 5/8/2007.