A Christmas carol

Describing the economic and cultural issues of the 19th century.

Demons of illness and poverty stalking the lucky gods, Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Publisher: Kokkeido (Akiyama Buemon), 1884, From the collection of: National Museum of Asian Art
"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population." Scrooge, along with the other upper class citezens, did not like the poor. This was based quite heavily on the fact that a lot of their taxes were going towards them.
The pinch of poverty, Thomas B. KENNINGTON, 1889, From the collection of: Art Gallery of South Australia
"This is the even-handed dealing of the world!" he said. "There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty; and there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth!" Scrooge is complaining about the amount of poverty that he is surrounded by. He feels like he is getting blamed for the poverty that is around him because he is rich and isn't spending his money on them.
Instant Landscape- bag #1, Kim, Nampyo, 2009, From the collection of: Korean Art Museum Association
"What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in 'em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you?" Scrooge was a very materialistic man, his whole world revolved around materials. This was an issue. In that time materials were important, but setting them aside, or even being more generous with them would have been beneficial to everyone.
mote spoon, Possibly Stephen Adams I, about 1760, From the collection of: Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields
"we could improve our worldly fortune by our patient industry." Industry was a very big deal. This played in to a lot of things including child labor laws. Everyone had such a great need to make money that they were doing things that, to us, would have been considered unethical.
Second and Third Exchange Bills. City Bank., Unknown / Inconnu, 1855/1855, From the collection of: McCord Museum
"His wealth is of no use to him. Je don't do any good with it. He don't make himself comfortable with it..." Scrooge loved his money. To him, money was similar to power. This was why he did not spend it. Because there were so many people that did not have very much money, Scrooge wanted to hold the power that they did not have.
Old Emirati money, Rym Tina Ghazal, 2014, Original Source: http://www.f-in-d.com/stories/coins-and-currency-detective
"And yet," said Scrooge, "you don't think me ill-used, when I pay a days wages for no work." Scrooge did not believe in paid vacation. He wanted work for every dollar he gave. This was how society worked, everything that was given had something given back in return.
Diamonds, Above, 2014-09-09/2014-09-12, From the collection of: WALL\THERAPY
"therefore I am about to raise your salary." The Cratchit's family, being poor and in need, was very glad to head of a raise, as any family would be. Money was a huge part of life, the rich seemed to run the place while others sat back and watched.
Figure of Death (Memento Mori), Hans Leinberger, 1520s (Renaissance), From the collection of: The Walters Art Museum
"It is likely to be a cheap funeral." No one liked Scrooge, because of this, they didn't want to spend a lot of money on his funeral. With money already being tight in most households, the idea seemed perfect.
Warsaw Ghetto Breadline, Fox Photos, 1941-03-01, From the collection of: Getty Images
"The ways were foul and narrow; the shops and houses wretched; the people half-naked, drunken, slipshod, ugly." What is described here is the ghetto of the town. For every place that has rich, there must be some poor, and this is where they were found.
Daily Planet Thanksgiving Dinner, Don Pennell, 1983-11-23, From the collection of: The Valentine
"They were looking at the table (which was spread out in great array)" Home and family structure were very string during this time. The family was gathered around the table eating their meal, this shows a great amount of structure within the home and also possibly the role of mothers, in that they cooked the meals and got the table ready to eat.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps