How Does Dickens use the Character of Scrooge to teach his readers Moral and Social Lessons? Charles Dickens was born in Land port, near Portsmouth in 1812, the son of a clerk in the navy pay office. When he was twelve, his father was imprisoned for debt in the Marshalsea prison and Dickens was put to work in the Warren’s blacking factory, which made shoe polish. For most of his childhood he lived in poverty and supported his family as much as he could by working in the blacking warehouse, instead of going to school. This experience inspired much of his fiction in later life.
Because of his poor upbringing, he was very sensitive to the plight of the poor. As an adult, Dickens wrote many popular and well received novels, which all contained an important moral or social message. Dickens felt that Victorian society was flawed and he wanted to change it for the better. Most of his books dealt with the issue of poverty, which was a huge crisis in the 1800’s due to the Industrial Revolution. Dickens wrote these books to inform the rich on the appalling poverty in Britain. In A Christmas Carol, which was one of his most loved books he tries to encourage the rich to share their wealth and help the poor and ill.
A Christmas Carol which was written in 1843 is an allegory, which would be read to children, but it has a deeper, moral meaning than it first appears. A Christmas Carol uses symbols like the ghosts to convey the message that Victorian people need to be more charitable to the poor. It also has staves instead of chapters, which are harmonies of music and this relates to the “Carol” in the title. There is a lot of humour in this book, which softens the moral message, keeping people interested and entertained, plus it doesn’t sound too preachy so people don’t get bored of its serious content.
The language used in this book is called archaic an outmoded language because it is old fashioned. In stave one Scrooge is described as being, “A tight-fisted hand at the grindstone” which means that he made other people work hard for him and his business, so he could earn more money, plus it means he was very stingy. Also, he is said to be “A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! ” This suggests the ways in which he wants to get money “squeezing, wrenching… ” plus it says he is greedy and an “old sinner”, which makes him sound like an aged offender of the law and bible.
Scrooge is often described to be a rich, lonely man who is “solitary as an oyster. ” This emphasises that he is always on his own, shutting everyone out of his life, hence the simile. Oysters have pearls inside, just as Scrooge protects and guards his treasure. Scrooge is described as a cold hearted man, “the cold within him froze his old features… ” This signifies that Scrooge has a cold heart and had no emotion what so ever and the bitter cold within was ruining the old features he had left like “nipped his nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait, made his eyes red… ” He was an old, heartless man.
Also, to show his cold heartedness, “No warmth warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he… ” This shows that he is a cold hearted man who would never be warmed and the alliteration “wintry weather” adds emphasis and keeps the reader interested, along with it saying he was a bitter man. In stark contrast, Scrooge’s nephew was jolly, cheerful and warm hearted. Charles Dickens compares evil, covetous, cold-hearted Scrooge with his cheerful, handsome warm hearted nephew, by using these adjectives for instance, “he had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost…
he was all in a glow; his face ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled and his breath smoked again. ” This creates the impression that Scrooge’s nephew is good looking, warm, bubbly attitude; he always was an affectionate man with a certain glow about him. His eyes were gleaming and his breath smoked to show his passionate, fiery approach warmed him up from the inside, unlike Scrooge. Scrooge refuses to celebrate Christmas with his nephew, since Scrooge believes that Christmas is a waste of time, effort and money; for example, “A merry Christmas, uncle! Cried a cheerful voice… Bah! Said Scrooge Humbug!
” This stresses that Scrooge thoroughly despises Christmas and everyone being merry when actual fact they are in poverty. This attitude towards Christmas corroborates his lonesome, dismal, parsimonious life without contributing any of his money to a soul (not even to a charitable cause). Scrooge has a dreadfully, destructive manner regarding the plight of the poor. Dickens shows this through the speech between the two gentlemen and Scrooge. Scrooge believes that the poor should go to the workhouse and says: “if they would rather die, said Scrooge, they had better do it and decrease the surplus population.
” This suggests that Scrooge wants them to die rather than share his wealth with them. He thinks that this will solve the poverty problem. Scrooge also says that they are in poverty because of their own doing. Next, Scrooge meets is old partner, Jacob Marley. Marley’s ghost represents Scrooge’s conscience. The ghost of Marley visits Scrooge to warn him of the three ghosts (spirits) coming to see him and that he has to change his ways, otherwise he will end up like Marley with a immense chain tied up on him, which is made of “cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel.
” These are there as a result of the life Jacob pursued and this is his punishment for not being charitable and more Christian like. He wears these chains also because he “forged” in life which means he made it in life because of his dishonesty. Dickens uses the ghost of Marley to scare Scrooge into thinking about his life and what he has actually achieved and whether he has done it in an acceptable and honest manner, for instance “The spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow men…