Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"

An artistic view on the ways in which Charles' Dickens "A Christmas Carol" reflects the social and economic issues of the early 19th century.        By Nicole Peterson

"It has been done in [the] name... of your family" -Scrooge, Stave III Family was a large part of life in the 19th century. Most of the main places Scrooge visits with the ghosts of Christmas are family parties and/or family dinners. Many things were done with families and friends, especially to celebrate holidays and other such events.
"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited." -Scrooge, Stave I Instead of seeing opportunities to help others or lend a hand out of the goodness of his heart, Scrooge saw the possible profits of the act. He did not understand that to do real good in the world was to do kind acts without profit or personal monetary benefit. He was often unwilling to help others unless it benefited him, as evidenced by his unwillingness to give to the poor.
"It's likely to be a very cheap funeral, for, upon my life, I don't know of anybody to go to it." -Stave IV In the 19th century, funerals were often a big deal. However, if one had few to no relations or close friends, they would typically have a small funeral with very few people in attendance and minimal fanfare, no matter how rich the person was in life.
"It seemed to scatter gloom and mystery" -Stave IV, speaking of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. This description seems to evidence a fear of the uncertainty of the future. It is also said that "[The] mysterious presence filled him with a solemn dread" (Stave IV). This shows that Scrooge was afraid and dreaded what the future held for him, and, had others had the same experience, they likely would have shared the same feelings. The future is often something that is seen coming but never expected, something which people await but never truly find. Typically, every moment known of is either in the past or the present, so seeing something in the future would be disarming and terrifying.
"The house-fronts looked black enough, and the windows blacker, contrasting with the smooth white sheet of snow upon the roofs, ad with the dirtier snow upon the ground." -Stave III, speaking of the poor area of London Poverty was a big issue in the 19th century. Many people lived in poverty due to working conditions, and often multiple people in a family would have to work just for the family to scrape by.Those in poverty, however (at least as evidenced by "A Christmas Carol"), were often seen as more joyful and more grateful than those with excess money, such as Scrooge. Also, priests would often collect "Alms" or offerings for the poor to help get them out of poverty.
Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that... Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail. -Stave I People were often superstitious (or, at least, very religious) in the 19th century. According to most cultures in the 19th century, if someone was dead, they were not coming back, and if one saw visions of them or their spirit/ghost, it was typically a bad omen.
"Some people laughed to see the alteration in him [Scrooge]." -Stave V In the 19th century, it was often hard for society to see or accept change, especially with the difficulty of communication and the ingrained views of the people. Even if the change was for good, it was often hard for people to believe or understand. It was also hard to desire change in many cases, such as Scrooge not wanting to change salaries, use more coal, or giving money to those in need.
"There was no noise of people running to and fro, and making a great stir, as there unquestionably would have been if night had beaten of bright day, and taken possession of the world." -Stave II In the 19th century, people tended to be quite celebratory on holidays. Also, people tended to have to move to and fro often, and it could take a while due to the lack of quick transportation. There were sometimes drunkards wandering the streets causing a clamor as well.
"God bless us every one!" -Tiny Tim, Stave III Religion was a large part of the typical 19th century life of the middle/upper class, as well as some of the lower class. The majority of people in England during this time were Christian. Even poor Tiny Tim understood this and was thankful for everything God had given him and asked for a blessing upon all, not just upon one or a few.
"I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free-will, and of my own free-will I wore it." -The Ghost of Marley, Stave I Many people in society will do what they want, as long as it benefits them, regardless of whether or not it hurts others. This is true now and was true in the 19th century. This was and will be true through all ages of the world. However, as free as it may feel, it figuratively chains people down and holds them from a better future.
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