Throughout Stave 1 and 2 Scrooge has the odd moment where he forgets himself and shows subtle signs of regret as to the way he has lead his life. For instance in Stave 2 when Scrooge is shown images of himself as a child. ‘”A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still. ” Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed. ‘ This is the first real sign of any deep emotion shown by Scrooge, supported by Dickens’ use of short sentences broken up with punctuation to add emphasis and give the passage a faster pace for the reader to associate it Scrooge’s state of heightened emotion.
This begins to show the reader that Scrooge isn’t as cold-hearted or uncaring as he seems. Perhaps it is just a fai?? ade he uses so as to hide the loneliness he feels from others and, more importantly, to hide it from himself to protect himself from having to relive the pain of his solitude. It is an ironic situation in that Scrooge’s fears of feeling the effects of solitude and loneliness are what cause him to seclude himself from those around him and live a life of solitude and loneliness. The Ghost of Christmas Present embodies all that is considered to be good about Christmas.
It seems to me that Dickens’ optimistic ideals about Christmas are based much more around the spirit of celebration and cheer than any kind of religious significance. The only time in the story that Dickens uses a religious perspective is in stave 4 when Scrooge is threatened with the idea of hell if he doesn’t change his attitudes. The Ghost first appears to Scrooge on a throne of a Christmas food and drinks and jovially welcomes him in. Many people would see this as a representation of everything that is wrong with the way we celebrate Christmas today.
Although this is not the implication Dickens was trying to express, a fat giant sitting atop a huge mountain of food could be seen as an embodiment of the selfish desire, which has displaced religious value for the purpose of Christmas. Dickens seems to hold little regard for the religious institution considering at the time the church was still very influential in England. This disregard is made clear in Stave 3 when Scrooge asks the spirit why the church deems it that everything must be closed on Sundays. ‘ “Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in your name, or at least in that of your family,” said Scrooge.
“There are some upon this Earth of yours,” returned the spirit, “who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us. ” ‘ In this little speech I think Dickens is trying to explain that people should follow their own spiritual and moral beliefs on how they should live their lives rather than follow the status quo accept a number of rules and practices deemed necessary by the Christian church to get into heaven.
Scrooge’s first sign of holding a sincere interest in another person’s wellbeing comes in stave 3 when he is being shown the Cratchit family enjoying their Christmas. This is when the reader is first introduced to the influential character of Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit’s crippled son. Scrooge is shown the direct effect his selfishness can have on the people around him as due to the poor salary he pays Bob the family has no money to get treatment for Tiny Tim and he could die. ‘ “Spirit,” said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, “tell me if Tiny Tim will live.
” ‘ Up until this moment in the story Scrooge had been trapped in his own self-centred ideal that the reclusive, mean-spirited way in which he lived his life didn’t hurt anyone other than himself since he never associated with anyone other than himself. He was quite happy to sit at home feeling sorry for himself and acting like he didn’t care about anything and therefore saw anyone who ever expected anything more from him as being unnecessarily intrusive into his lifestyle.
When Scrooge is faced with Tiny Tim, and the prospect of him losing his life, he is directly faced with the victim of his own actions and he doesn’t like it. I think this is the main catalyst that breaks Scrooge out of his Psychological cycle of self-loathing. When the Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to the Cratchit’s household on Christmas Day, where they live their happy, family-orientated lives, the celebrations seem meagre to Scrooge because he is used to living a wealthy lifestyle and finding no pleasure in it whatsoever.
What the spirit wants Scrooge to understand, and what Dickens wants the public to understand, is the way the Cratchits find joy in each other’s presence, and that the experience of enjoying the company of others is one that no amount of money can buy. This is the social lesson that Dickens is trying to preach to the public, the fact that having a lot of money makes you no better off than someone who has none and that a person’s is held in the way they are seen in the eyes of the people that surround them.