Dickens uses the Cratchit family to increase the readers’ empathy for the underprivileged. This situation is parallel to that of today’s first world/third world struggle, where the rich are encouraged to help the poor. Dickens’ description of the characters increases the readers’ sympathy and pity for the family. “They were not well dressed; their shoes were far from being water-proof; their clothes were scanty”. The family, however poor, are also admired because even as they own so little material wealth, they are content: “dressed out but poorly in a twice-turned gown, but brave in ribbons”.
However improperly the Cratchits were dressed, they still delighted in each other: “they were happy, grateful and pleased with one another”. The whole family contrasts strongly with the representation of Scrooge, as ironically, while Scrooge has money, he is dismal, and though the Cratchits are poor, they are merry. This could signify that although the Cratchits are not wealthy, they are rich in spirit, and full of love for life and one another. Scrooge, on the other hand, is alone with no-one to love or have love him back.
The audience would therefore want to follow the Cratchits example, and rather be merry and poor than rich and miserable. The prediction of Tiny Tim’s death at this point in the novel makes the audience feel even more sympathetic for the Cratchits and wary of what is to come. The prophecy also brings another side Scrooge, “‘Spirit,’ said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, ‘tell me if Tiny Tim will live. ‘” This shows Scrooge to be more loving and caring, as he has never felt interest in another person until this point. This also places Scrooge in a divine position, as he now has power over life and death.
The readers may feel he is becoming more human. “‘Oh, no, kind Spirit! Say he will be spared. ‘” Dickens presents the death as a great loss, but still makes the Cratchits stronger, in order that they cope. “Poor Bob sat down in it, and when he had thought a little and composed himself, he kissed the little face. He was reconciled to what had happened”. The death of Tiny Tim also makes the Cratchits appear more believable to readers, as they can share the pain of the family. Additionally, this creates a ‘face’ for the poor, as we can know them by name, not just as one group of stereotypes.
This increases the impact of the moral message by knowing who the poverty would have an effects. Fezziwig is immediately introduced to the audience as a merry character: “He rubbed his hands; adjusted his capacious waistcoat; laughed all over himself, from his shoes to his organ of benevolence; and called out in a comfortable oily, rich, fat jovial voice”. This scene is included to show the contrast between Scrooge and Fezziwig as employers, and the fact that although Fezziwig is rich, he still has a generous nature, unlike Scrooge.
By showing Fezziwig as Scrooge’s old employer, it introduces irony as though Scrooge was mentored by Fezziwig, as an employer he is not magnanimous at all. The description of the Christmas party emphasises the giving personality of Fezziwig and the importance of caring for all types of people, rich and poor alike. “In came all the young men and women employed in the business. In came the housemaid, with her cousin, the baker. In came the cook, with her brother’s particular friend, the milkman.
” This passage includes repetition, showing the amount of people and the generosity of Fezziwig. The scene also shows the importance of sharing the wealth and happiness, in order for readers to realise the true reason as to why people are jovial: when they are among friends, no matter their race, religion or class. The reaction of Scrooge is unexpected, as his ‘bad’ traits are not as clear as before, and goodness shines through: “‘He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil.
Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune. ‘” (Scrooge to the Ghost of Christmas Past about Fezziwig. ) Whereas before, Scrooge would have said the more money spent, the greater the gift, at this point the argues that happiness is imperative. This scene shows Dickens agrees with the character that Scrooge is becoming, and wishes readers’ to become more giving and realise the material goods are not everything.
Dickens uses the supernatural spirits as a medium for Scrooge to examine his character because they are omnipresent (all around) and omniscient (all knowing), which makes it easier to provoke a reaction from Scrooge, as the ghosts are knowingly so much more powerful. Real people however, would not have the advantage of being able to jump from scene to scene and would not have the same impact. In Victorian times ghosts would have generated a vast reaction, as most people believed in them, and the presence of spirits would have proved the existence of the afterlife.
Victorian society would have also believed the spirits served as a religious reminder, of the omnipotent God and the severity of any penalty for transgression. The message of wealth not bringing happiness is further developed by presenting the downfall of Scrooge by his love for money. His ongoing greed for wealth looses him his fianci?? e, Belle, as she feels Scrooges love for her is being replaced by that of his love for wealth. “‘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.
‘” Belle goes onto marry another man, and doesn’t find contentment in wealth, but in her children: “a room, not very large or handsome, but full of comfort … They were not forty children conducting themselves like one, but every child was conducting itself like forty. The consequences were uproarious beyond belief; but no one seemed to care; on the contrary, the mother and daughter laughed heartily, and enjoyed it very much”. We see clearly how Scrooge’s life could have been, was it not for his gluttony for material wealth.
Instead, as a result of this, Scrooge’s death, as shown to him by the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come, is unmourned. Ironically, in death, people see Scrooge the way he saw them in life, as a source of money. “He frightened every one away from him when he was alive, to profit us when he was dead! ” Knowing this transforms Scrooge’s personality completely, changing his outlook on money and life forever. The immense variation in Scrooge’s attitude leaves the audience encouraged, with a improved will, hoping they too can benefit from the changes made in their lives.
The transformation is also shown by pathetic fallacy, as the weather no longer reflects Scrooge’s sullen, cold, nature but is instead sparkling and bright. ‘A Christmas Carol’ conveys simple but effective moral messages, such as the fact that happiness is not found in wealth, and to treat others as you yourself would like to be treated. By showing the infinite change in a single character, Dickens manages to achieve all aims set in the preface, and to raise moral issues to make the reader think. He conveys all this into and entertaining and enjoyable novel, to keep the reader captivated.