A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, is a simple story based on a episodic narrative structure. It’s an allegory, because each event in the story has a meaning.
The main character of the novel is Ebenzer Scrooge, an old man living in London during the story (the Christmas Eve, 1843). During the story, the reader is able to understand the nature of Scrooge: he is a greedy man, he always does bad, he hates Christmas and all the happy events, and he is interested only about money (because it is supposed he was a usurer). During the novel the reader can also note the difference and the contrast between Scrooge and the other characters: in the beginning, for example, Scrooge receives the visit of his nephew, Fred. Fred has a great regard for Christmas, and he invites his uncle to pass the Christmas Day with his family, in his house. But, obviously, Scrooge refuses. After that, a man asking money for the poor people visits him: and Scrooge tells him that poor people should be living in workhouses or prisons, or they should be all dead, because this would improve the problem of the surplus of population in Great Britain. Another important character, whose differences form Scrooge are visible from the beginning, is Bob Cratchit. He has got a poor family, so he must work harder the day after Christmas, if he wants to stay at home with his relatives.
After the introduction, Scrooge goes home, and he meets the ghost of his dead partner: Jacob Marley. Jacob Marley was a bad and greedy person too, and he always did bad during his life. So, when the ghost appears to Scrooge, he is wearing chains: this means he is bound in his emotional alienation. At first Scrooge doesn’t believe in the ghost, but then he has to believe in it. It warns him about the visit of three Christmas’ spirits, that will appear during the night of the Christmas Eve.
The first spirit is the spirit of the Christmas Past, and he shows to Scrooge when he was a young unhappy student, but still able to feel the spirit of the Christmas. Then, it shows his first job, when he was a clerk and he worked for a man called Mr. Fezziwig: he was a very gentle and generous man, because he gave great parties and extra-salaries every Christmas. In the end, Scrooge sees his fiancée, Belle, saying him he loved money more than her. After a lot of years, Belle is a happy mother, and has got a family. Scrooge feels very bad because he hasn’t got a family.
The second spirit is the spirit of the Christmas Present, and he represents the real meaning of Christmas: in fact, he can empathize with other people, and understand Scrooge. It shows him the house of his clerk, Bob Cratchit, who has a very poor family and so he has a very poor dinner. The clerk’s son, Tiny Tim, hasn’t got a leg. Scrooge asks to the spirit about the future of this child, and it answers that if nothing changes, Tiny Tim will die. But here, the reader can understand that something in Scrooge’s soul has changed. After that, the ghost shows the house of his nephew Fred, who is kidding him with his wife because he doesn’t like Christmas. In the end, it shows two guys, out in the streets. They’re cold, and hungry. Then Scrooge remembers his words about the poor people.
The third and last spirit is the spirit of the Christmas Yet To Come, and he represents the fear of the death, and the successive punishment, or reward. At first, it shows to Scrooge three men in the City of London: they’re talking about someone’s death. Then, the house of Bob Cratchit. Tiny Tim has died, and all the family is very sad. Scrooge’s office is occupied by another agency, and in Scrooge’s bed there is a body. The housekeepers had sold all the Scrooge’s items to the Old Joe shop, in a poor part of the city. Finally, Scrooge sees his graveyard, and he understands. He has died, and no-one misses him.
But suddenly Scrooge wakes up, and it’s Christmas Day. He understands that he can still change the future, and he becomes very happy. In fact, because of the three spirits, now he can watch inside his soul and recover it. He gives to Bob Cratchit a huge turkey, and becomes a kind man. He begins giving lots of money to the poor people, and greater salaries to his clerk. Tiny Tim doesn’t die, and Scrooge becomes like a second father for him. In the end, Scrooge has changed, and he has begun to love Christmas.
Through this allegory, Charles Dickens wants to criticize the problems and the contradictions of his society, the Victorian society. These contradictions are showed in his novel Oliver Twist: the unemployment, the bad living conditions, the emotional alienation of workers. For Dickens, the solution is not a political one, but it is a philanthropic character, a moral example.