‘Scrooges decision to change his way of life is purely selfish’ Do you agree? Essay
‘Scrooges decision to change his way of life is purely selfish’ Do you agree?
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a moral tale that depicts the protagonist’s Ebenezer Scrooge’s moral journey from selfishness to redemption. It can be seen that his new found way of life is derived from the desire to be a good man of the community and to assist others such as Tiny Tim.
The idea of Scrooge’s transformation not being selfish can also be seen in his aspiration to contribute to the wider community that suffers from a poverty stricken way of life. In addition to this, Scrooge also reforms his way of life in order to feel love and care from family, which satisfied his nephew Fred aswell as himself. However, this selflessness is only to an extent as Scrooge’s main desire to change is evidence when a lonely and tormented afterlife is a possibility for him, which may lead readers to believe that Scrooge’s intentions initially could be merely to save himself.
The novella A Christmas Carol illustrates the idea that the protagonist Scrooge aspires to end his cantankerous, selfish way of life in order to help the less fortunate and in particular Tiny Tim. This is shown in Stave Three when the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge the scene of the Cratchit family enjoying a Christmas fest in their “scanty clothes”, and Scrooge shows interest in the physical health of Tiny Tim.
Scrooge says “oh no kind spirit! Say he will be spared!”, which presents to the reader the idea that Scrooge now cares about others and that therefore his repentance is not purely self interested. It is evident when Scrooge begins to change his previously nasty isolated ways and selfish attitudes, that this change is not for self fulfillment as he buys a “prize turkey” for the Cratchit family in Stave Five and assures Bob “shant know who sends it”.
Scrooge also “raise[s] your [Bobs] salary” in order to “assist your [his] struggling family”. These actions conveys to the reader that Scrooge is selfless as he wishes not to be rewarded and in contrast to his previous secluded behavior, he is not a man of goodwill and wishes to remain anonymous.
The vivid images of the plight of the poor that are presented to Scrooge ultimately act as a catalyst for him to change his miserly ways in order to
help the destitute and the needy in society. St the beginning of the novella Scrooge states “if they would rather die…they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population”. In contrast, at the end of the novella Scrooge is depicted as a benevolent man who is “so fluttered and glowing with his good intentions”, who wished to help the lest fortunate.
The personified children “Ignorance” and “Want” act as a catalyst for Scrooge to change his derisory and self-interested nature as he shows interest in the plight of the poor as he is shocked by these two “ragged, scowling” demons by saying ‘ “are there no refugee or resource?” The Ghost states that “there is no degradation, no perversion of humanity” for these “wretched, abject, frightful,” children, which makes Scrooge realise that he needs to change in order to assist them as he “hung his head, overwhelmed with penitence and grief”.
This, it is illustrated in the novella that Scrooge transforms his previous, pessimistic self, into an individual who is no just self-interested, but who becomes responsible and generous to the poor by the end of the novel.
Scrooge’s reclamation also occurs in order for him to create a relationship with his nephew Fred, who is yearning for familial connection, which shows that Scrooge wished to please others as well as himself in his transformation.
In Stave One Fred says that Christmas is “a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time, the only time in the long calendar of the year where men and women seem by one consent to open their shut up hearts freely and think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave”, which ultimately functions as a reminder that Scrooge has neglected his family, along with his employee and the wider community of mankind and contributes to his decision of changing his way of life.
The Ghost of Christmas Present illustrates a scene to Scrooge whereby he feels emotion watching his “niece play well upon the harp”, which reminds him of the happier times of his childhood. As Scrooge left the scene, the Ghosts “left his blessings and taught Scrooge his precepts”, which conveys that Scrooge’s decision to reclaim himself is due to the lessons he has learnt and in turn wishes to regain affiliation with and the affection of his family.
In Stave Five, Scrooge becomes closer to Fred and was “at home in five minutes”, which presents the idea that Scrooge aims to provide himself and his family with warmth, compassion and happiness, therefore his redemption is not purely for his own needs.
On the contrary, to a minor degree, Scrooge redeeming his negative way of life may be seen as self-interested in order to escape a terminated or isolated death. In Stave Five Scrooge is presented with the possibility fo death which is the scene where he promises to change urgently. The “shrouded [figure] in a deep black garment” fills Scrooge with a “solemn dread” and appeals to his sense of fear which may be why he has decided to change..
Moreover, Scrooge seeing the two pawnbrokers profiting from his death, made him realise he needs to change his way of life as “death is they dominion, but of the loved revered and honored head, thou canst not turn one hair to thy dread purpose or make one feature odious”, this presents to Scrooge that death will harm his image as he has not been a person of good nature. Therefore, he may have redeemed himself in order for his body not to be left dead in a “dark empty house” surrounded by “gnawing rats”.
The idea of being left alone to die evidently terribly alarms Scrooge as he says “assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me by an altered life” , where a reader may perceive that his newfound benevolent character occurs in order to save himself from fear of dying alone.
A Christmas Carol explores the moral lessons that Ebenezer Scrooge uses to redeem his neglectful and selfish ways. The protagonist reclaims himself through giving to the less fortunate that are closely associated with him, aswell as the wider community. In addition to his Scrooge’s character in Stave Five represents the idea that he desires to provide familial connections to his nephew, who has sought after them his whole life.
However, Scrooge’s reclamation as a purely selfless change may not have been thought by all readers, as one may see his repentance as a means to save himself from a miserly death. Thus, Scrooge’s decision to change his narcissistic way of life is not purely selfish, however this is only to an extent as everyone must think of themselves, therefore some aspects of his reclamation may be seen as selfish.