Charles Dickens was brought up in Victorian England. The Victorian era had a major effect on Britain. As it was the times of the industrial revolution, but apart from this, it was a time or great poverty. Many poor people, including children, and also criminals, if not jailed had to work long and hard in workhouse. When Charles Dickens was twelve, he was considered old enough to go to work. He got a job in Warrens boot blacking factory, he worked ten hours a day to help provide for his family.
Growing up in a poor family environment, Dickens could see the social injustices inflicted, in the Victorian era.
When he began to write, Dickens pointed out these flaws and often criticized them in his books, In the opening pages of a “Christmas carol”, straight away Dickens gets the audiences’ minds thinking, as he describes Scrooge, by making the sounds go into rhythm when reading, as they all end in the same -ing sound.
For example ‘A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping. Clutching, covetous old sinner’. These words make you feel an automatic distance from the audience towards Scrooge, as Dickens paints a picture of a truly awful man in your mind.
Dickens is setting up the book here, and exaggerates his points and descriptions, but this is a clever device used by Dickers, as he describes Scrooge as a horrible man at first, so that later in the book the change of Scrooge is more powerful.
Later on in the book, a charity worker collecting money calls on Scrooge at home, and Scrooge refuses to give the man money and tells him to go away. This is yet another way Dickens makes it impossible to warm to Scrooge. Dickens portrays Scrooge as a very misanthropic person, and this is shown clearly when he refuses to donate to charity.
‘I don’t make merry myself at Christmas, and I can’t afford to make idle people merry’. This example shows how Scrooge had a very negative attitude towards Christmas. Maybe Dickens is trying to tell us that something happened to Scrooge at Christmas, or Christmas was never a happy time for his family, which left him to be the miserable man he is now. But it also shows how he is greedy with his money, as though he has been deprived of it as a young child and dare not let any slip away now he has it.
Dickens also uses Scrooge as a device, to show how wealthy people in the 1800’s did not care about the poor and poverty stricken people, as though they blocked it our of their minds, thinking it was there fault they were poor, and they did not have to worry about it. When Scrooge goes to bed later on, the ghost of Christmas past, which is Scrooges old deceased business partner, Jacob Marley visits him in the night. Jacob Marley’s ghost is described as having chains weighing him down, as though when he had died he still had to carry the burden of a life of misery and greed.
Which will happen to Scrooge if he doesn’t change his ways. The ghost takes Scrooge back to his childhood home. His childhood home isn’t described very nicely by Dickens, not that the house itself is horrible, but in a sense that it doesn’t have a good family atmosphere. It is described as having ‘broken fortunes’ and a ‘chilly bareness’. The language used to describe his home starts to make you understand why he has turned into a grotesque man. It shows us that your upbringing has a very powerful effect on your adult life.
Dickens here is showing us how Victorian society were not as worried about children having a good upbringing, as they sent them to work very early and cared little about their lives. ‘Broken fortunes’is used by Dickens to show us that at some point in his childhood, fortunes in his family have been lost, this could explain the reason that Scrooge is very greedy. When we are shown Scrooges childhood we are shown a young girl and boy. Which is Scrooge and his sister, Fan, when they were younger. It is the first time we see Scrooge showing genuine love, he talks to her in a very kind and caring way. She also shows the affection back.
For example ‘ We’re to be together all the Christmas long, and have the merriest time in all the world’. This shows how Christmas was a happy time for Scrooge when he was with his sister. Dickens uses the love her has for his sister as a device, to show that Scrooge wasn’t always horrible, though the contrast between Scrooge’s usual language and how he is speaking when he is with his sister is typical of Dickens, as he uses large contrasts, which make his points obvious to the audience, here it helps the audience see a different side to Scrooge that they could relate too. The ghost then takes Scrooge to watch the Cratchit family.
Scrooge is shown how happy the family is even thought they are extremely poor. This is where Tiny Tim is introduced. Tiny Tim is used as a device to make the audience sympathise with the Cratchit family, and make them look more loving with each other, which makes a large comparison between Scrooge and the Cratchit’s, again Dickens uses contrast to state his points, which is typical of him. I think that Dickens uses his language for emotive effect here, trying to make the audience feel for they Cratchits, though I think that his language and writing is too sentimental, when presenting Tiny Tim.
Though I believe, that when this was written back in the Victorian era, this type of sentimentality was appropriate, as it had to be powerful to be able to make am impact in the harsh Victorian society. But nowadays, there is not that sort of poverty in Britain, and help is available, so we do not need the powerful impact of Tiny Tim. We are then shown the last ghost of Christmas, this is where the book takes a much more darker turn and Dicken’s makes a large contrast going from showing his past and happy memories to using more sinister and dark language, especially when describing the ghost.
As it is described as wearing long black robes, and also Scrooge was confused whether the spirit had a foot or a claw. I think this ghost was meant to shock and frighten the Victorian audience, as many people back in that era were very much like Scrooge, and did not care for the misfortunes of others, though Dickens is trying to warn people that bad things will happen if you live a life like Scrooge. The third ghost is definitely the most fearful as Scrooge knew what he had done in his past and present, but the future he can not control what he is about to be told.
Scrooge is then shown by the ghost, a group of businessmen, he knew, talking about an unidentified dead man, who is later, found out to be Scrooge. The men talk in a very cold and harsh way about the man. ‘It’s likely to be a very cheap funeral’. This shows that even after his death, people still remember Scrooge for being tight with his money. Dickens here uses very harsh words, at describing how people felt about Scrooge, and it makes you feel sorry for Scrooge, but at the same time can’t help but think he brought it on himself.
Though when it is revealed to Scrooge that he is the dead man, Scrooge really shows emotion for the first time, and he has seen the error of his ways. He begs the spirit to help him and promises he will change. This is a very dramatic moment in the book, and Dickens makes it stand out by straight away showing a contrast in how Scrooge has changed, as we are shown him to be more generous and caring.
Dickens here is trying to tell the Victorian society that change is not inevitable, and I think he wanted his audience to realise this, and he could change society. I think that a Christmas carol still is relevant today as it was in the Victorians era. As it shows how to love and share at Christmas time. But I think the impact Dickens was aiming for would have worked in 1843, as that’s when poverty was not spoken about. But now I don’t think that strong message is really needed.