Dickens uses the supernatural story to house this particular social problem novel as it was a very popular style of writing. By using a supernatural story Dickens can get his views to a whole new type of audience. The social problem novel would normally only appeal to those who had political views but supernatural stories attracted a much wider readership. ‘A Christmas Carol’ begins with a description of the protagonist, Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge was the partner of Jacob Marley who died 7 years previous to the start of this novel, on Christmas Eve, which is also the night he returns.
Scrooge owns a small business which has something to do with finance but we cannot be certain as we are not told exactly what it is. Scrooge has a single employee who is called Bob Cratchitt. Cratchitt is poorly paid at just ‘fifteen bob a week. ‘ Scrooge despises Christmas and because of this his dead partner Jacob Marley comes to visit him on Christmas Eve to tell Scrooge that he will be visited by 3 spirits.
The first of the spirits is the spirit of the past. The second is the spirit of the present, and as you can probably guess, the third is the spirit of the future. The spirits show Scrooge the shadows of those three times.
The spirits guide Scrooge and from seeing these three things Scrooge changes his mind about Christmas and starts to, not only, celebrate Christmas on December 25th ,but also, in his heart all year round.
Scrooge is the protagonist of the novel and in the first stave a negative opinion can be perceived. Scrooge is seen as a very cold hearted man whom we get from his actions at Marley’s funeral “He was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral. ” On Christmas Eve Scrooge is visited by two men who ask Scrooge if he will give them some money to help the poor.
Scrooge refuses and says: “‘Are there no prisons? ‘ asked Scrooge. ‘Plenty of prisons,’ said the gentlemen, laying down the pen again. ‘And the union workhouses,’ demanded Scrooge, ‘are they still in operation? ‘ ‘They are. Still,’ returned the gentleman, ‘I wish I could say they were not. ‘” Scrooge is then asked what he will give them to which he replies ‘nothing. ‘ Scrooge could afford to quite happily give them some money but won’t because he is miserly. Therefore Scrooge is the spokesperson for the views of Victorian society.
Many people could afford to help the poor and to stop them being sent to the poor house but they don’t, just like Scrooge. Although Scrooge is rich and could afford to live a comfortable life he doesn’t, “Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern. ” Scrooge is, on the other hand, easily scared. When visited by his former partner Scrooge is alarmed, “He tried to say ‘humbug’ but stopped at the first syllable. ” Jacob Marley is the first paranormal character that appears in the novel and is first seen in the door knocker of Scrooges house.
“Without its undergoing any intermediate process of change-not a knocker, but Marley’s face. ” Jacob Marley gives Scrooge quite a fright when he appears in Scrooges chamber’s, “The same face, the very same. Marley, in his pigtail, usual waistcoat, tights and boots, the tassels on the latter bristling like his pigtail, and his coat skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cashboxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel.
” Marley came to inform Scrooge about his visits from the three spirits and also tells him that unless he changes he will have a chain longer than Marley’s, “‘You will be haunted by three spirits. ‘” The first of the three spirits is the spirit of the past. This spirit is quite strange, “It was a strange figure- like a child, yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view and being diminished to a child’s proportions. ”
This spirit shows Scrooge the shadows of his past and proves to us that he had an imagination. This is because Scrooge once read the ‘Arabian Nights’ which is an original supernatural story. We also learn that Scrooge once enjoyed Christmas. When he was an apprentice Scrooge’s master was a man called Fezziwig, “Yo ho, my boys! ‘ said Fezziwig. ‘No more work tonight Christmas Eve, Dick. Christmas Ebenezer! ‘” With Scrooge being treat that well as an apprentice it is quite a surprise to see that he probably one of the worst employers of Victorian times.
He makes his employee, Bob Cratchitt, work long hard hours for little pay and almost refuses to allow him Christmas day off. Scrooge has hardly taken ‘Fezziwigs’ example of an employer seriously. Scrooge is then taken to his first and last love, Belle. Scrooge fell in love with her when they were both poor but Scrooge became greedy and fanatic about money. At this point she let him go: “‘It matters little,’ she said softly. ‘ To you, very little. Another idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve. ‘
‘What idol has displaced you? ‘ he rejoined. ‘A golden one. ‘ ” This tells us that Scrooge has moved his love from Belle to money. Scrooge is then taken back to his bedroom where he awaits the second spirit. Scrooge is greeted by the Spirit of Christmas present who takes him on a journey around London. The spirit is a large, jolly ghost. The room has to be resized to fit him. He wears a simple green robe and has kind clear eyes. This spirit is intimidating. The ghost does not wear shoes but has a holly wreath around his head. He has dark brown hair, which is curly, and is one of 1800, at least.
The spirit shows him the streets of London at Christmas this year and also takes him on a flight. The first place of significance that is visited is the home of Scrooge’s copy clerk, Bob Cratchitt. His family are preparing Christmas dinner and Bob is out with their crippled son Tiny Tim. The family are poor so cannot afford a big Christmas dinner but they talk about it as though it is a feast fit for kings. From the sight of Tiny Tim Scrooge feels bad about Bob’s salary. Bob is paid 15 bob a week which today works out at i?? 0. 75. After their dinner they make a toast to Mr.
Scrooge. Scrooge asks the spirit about Tiny Tim with which the spirit replies “I see a vacant seat. In the chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. ” Although medical science was very limited in Victorian times Tiny Tim could still be helped by doctors. But without a better wage Bob can’t afford it. It all comes down to Scrooge in the end. If Scrooge did pay bob more it wouldn’t be as much of an issue and the spirit of Christmas present probably wouldn’t see an empty seat by the chimney and a crutch without an owner.
Once they have finished at the Cratchitt household the spirit takes Scrooge on a flight to a miners hut a ship and a lighthouse. All these places have one thing in common they are all singing and making merry their situation with it being Christmas day. The flight is made to point out to Scrooge that no matter what their situation is they are all celebrating, like he should. The final place of call is Fred’s house. Here Scrooge sees that his nephew is having as much fun as everyone else. He also finds out his true feelings for Scrooge.
They play a game in which they answer questions to find out what person place or thing a person is thinking of. In this case Fred is thinking of Scrooge and he says something nasty: “An animal, a live animal, rather a disagreeable animal, a savage animal, an animal that growled and grunted sometimes, and lived in London, and walked the streets, and wasn’t led by anybody,” to which everyone concluded that it was his uncle Scrooge. The final thing this spirit does is to show Scrooge two children which cling to the spirit’s legs. There is a boy and a girl under the spirit’s robes.
They are called Ignorance and Want and the spirit claims that they are man’s. The spirit tells Scrooge to beware of them both “‘ Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing is erased. Deny it! ‘” Scrooge asks the spirit if there is any refuge for him and his words from the first stave are echoed by the spirit: “‘ Are there no prisons? ‘ said the spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. ‘Are there no workhouses? ‘” This is just showing how hurtful those words can be.