A Christmas Carol Essay
A Christmas Carol
Remembrance of his past, viewing the present and an insight into the future, make Scrooge realise how greedy he has been throughout his elder life and makes him want to change for the people around him. To express the theme of goodness, Dickens uses lists, similes, metaphors and alliterations to express character and contrast good with evil. In the first stave of the play, Dickens talks directly to the reader using a humorous tone.
He also uses similes in order to build up our view of Scrooge’s character before we come to meet him. ‘Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire. ‘ This use of language informs the reader that Scrooge is a mean and greedy person and has a great impact on how we view him. Long, multi-clause, complex sentences are used throughout the novel, which are challenging to read. Dickens also uses lists, metaphors and personification to create setting and character. As the story opens, the weather is dull and miserable.
‘It was cold, bleak, biting weather: foggy withal. ‘ This is used to represent Scrooge, showing his ugly qualities, the weather being used as a metaphor. Scrooge’s character is emphasised through the use of rich language, metaphors, similes, alliterations and lists. Weather alongside hot and cold imagery is also used to link us with Scrooge’s ugly qualities. ‘No warmth could warm him, no wintry weather chill him. ‘ ‘The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often ‘came down’ handsomely, and Scrooge never did.
‘ Weather and cold are here used as metaphors, and the word ‘handsomely’ means generosity, generous is something that Scrooge definitely isn’t. These quotations, taken from the text, make us think that Scrooge has no feelings, thus setting his character. A list of adjectives used by Dickens is also used for the same purpose. ‘A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! ‘ As well as the word ‘sinner’ relating to the evil inside Scrooge, it is also a religious comment; the Victorian community was a Christian society.
The weather of London described in stave 1 is a metaphor for Scrooge’s character. Lists of rich language are used to create a visual image in the reader’s mind of the setting of the novel. ‘It was cold, bleak, biting weather; foggy withal. ‘ These words are again enforcing Scrooge’s ugly personality upon the audience. Dickens’ also uses personification when describing the place that Scrooge lives. ‘It must have ran there when it was a young house, playing hide-and-seek with the other houses, and forgotten the way out again. ‘ This is interesting as we will be revisiting Scrooge’s youth when he, too played hide-and-seek.
Another trick used by Dickens is contrast. When Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, is introduced into the play, we can immediately recognise a contrast between the characters of the boy and his uncle. Fred is described in a positive way; ‘his face was ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again. ‘ This description shows Fred as a kind-hearted, warm person and the reader begins to like him. The same cannot be said for Scrooge. ‘Tight fisted hand at the grindstone. ‘ This quotation about Scrooge pains a powerful portrait and, unlike with Fred, the reader dislikes him.
This contrast of hot vs. cold expresses the difference in character. The statements made by Fred echo that of the one made by the ghost of Marley, exploring the theme of goodness. Fred is the typical Victorian citizen, believing in the goodness of Christmas joy. ‘There are many things from which I may have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say, Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas, when it has come around- a part from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that-as a good time.
‘ This shows the brightness of Fred’s good spirit. The main message of the novel is that given by the Ghost of Jacob Marley when he visits Scrooge. ‘Mankind was my business, the common welfare was my business, charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business. ‘ This again links to the theme of the novel. Scrooge does not view Christmas in the same way. ‘Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas,’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should! ‘ This shows a lot about Scrooge.
He does not care about anyone or anything else and is not open to the feeling of happiness and joy and therefore shuts out all merriment linking to Christmas. Stave 2 takes us back to the boyhood of Scrooge. During this stave we see that remembrance of his past has an effect on him, and passion begins to touch his heart. We are taken to a rural scene where the weather seems to change. In London it was described as being ‘very foggy and extremely cold. ‘ Now it is said ‘The darkness and the mist had vanished with it, for it was a clear, cold, winter day, with snow upon the ground.
‘ This change in appearance tells the audience of the change of Scrooge’s character. The weather was much clearer and brighter in his past; this is symbolic, linking back to his character, telling the audience that he was a much nicer person in his younger days and has grown to be greedy and mean, thus the dark weather in the present. Scrooge is rejoiced when he spots some young boys travelling towards him on horse-back. ‘Why was he rejoiced beyond all bounds to see them! Why did his cold eye glisten and his heart leap up as they went past!
Why was he filled with gladness when he heard them give each other a Merry Christmas, as they parted at cross-roads and bye-ways, for their several homes! ‘ This description, using rich words, informs us of Scrooges’ reaction to the people of his childhood, painting a positive picture and showing us how he seems to have slightly changed from his wicked ways, and passion begins to touch his heart. There is also use of personification – the innocence of childhood. We learn that family was very important to Scrooge when we meet his sister.
He thought very highly of her and is very ashamed of himself when he thinks about his nephew, her only child. ‘Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind; and answered briefly, ‘Yes. ‘ He feels guilty as he loved his sister but remembers how bad he treated his nephew before. This is another way of showing the reader Scrooge’s hidden depth and feelings, and the beginnings of his transformation of character. During Christmas present, Scrooge’s sitting room undergoes an amazing transformation. ‘The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove, from every part of which, bright gleaming berries glistened.