‘A Christmas Carol’ is an allegory which relies heavily on symbolism to convey meaning and atmosphere. Discuss. The novel ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens can be represented in different ways. It can be represented as a simple story with a moral, where a man named Scrooge is visited by four ghosts who give him a chance to mend his ways. However Dickens also gives the novel a more profound meaning by using symblosim and so it can be represented as an allegory. The four ghosts are repeated symbols that give structure to the novel.
The book is divided into chapters that end after each ghost has left Scrooge. This is due to each ghost giving a different atmosphere in the novel. The four ghosts that come to visit Scrooge are: Marley, the ghost of Christmas past, the ghost of Christmas present and the ghost of Christmas yet to come. Scrooge’s dead business partner, named Marley is the first ghost to visit Scrooge. You first see his face as Scrooge’s door knocker. This represents Marley trying to enter his life.Order now
The knocker ‘had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar’, symbolising Marley is there to enlighten Scrooge by giving him hope and help to amend his life. He is also an example of what will happen to Scrooge if he does not mend his ways. The terrors that Marley goes through can be seen by the horror in Marley’s face (as the knocker) which ‘seem to be in spite of the face and beyond its control, rather than part of its own expression’. This shows Scrooge that terrors await him if he does not change.
‘Though the Ghost sat perfectly motionless, its hair, and skirts, and tassles, were still agitated’ is another example to Scrooge of what might come, as Marley can not rest and is constantly tormented. Marley’s body is transparent symbolising the helplessness and void he fills now he can not interfere and help in human affairs. The next ghost that visits him, at one in the morning the next day, is the ghost of Christmas past. This ghost is a cross between a child and a small old man. It is partly the form of a child to emphesise Scrooge as a child; innocent, but also it symbolises hope for Scrooge to change.
It also has features of an old man to show that time has gone by but also to show how the past experiences make us wiser. The ghost wore a white tunic to represent purity and innocence. It held a green holly and it’s dress was trimmed with summery flowers to show the past exists in all the seasons. ‘From the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light’, this light represents the ghost’s knowledge and symbolises how it tries to enlighten Scrooge. However the ghost is carrying an extinguisher under its arm which it wears for a cap.
As Scrooge never thinks about his past as he wishes to forget it, for many years the ghost was forced to wear the cap and remain hidden. The cap also represents Scrooge’s stubborness to not allow people to help him, as the light represents enlightenment and he does not wish to have it. The ghost of Christmas past gives an atmosphere of peace, innocence and wisdom. The ghost that follows the next night is the ghost of Christmas present. This ghost represents the Christmas spirit. Similar to Santa Claus he is in the form of a giant man.
It wears a simple baggy green robe/mantle, bordered with white fur and on it’s head a holly wreath with shining icicles. The fur can be associated with warmth which represents the giant giving love and Christmas cheer. Green and white are traditional Christmas colours associated with hollies and snow, showing that this spirit represents a part of Christmas. Green also represents growth, hope and safety and white symbolises purity and innocence, which are also what Christmas and the Christmas Spirit represent. The ghost has long brown curls and all it’s body features are cheery and free.
The ghost wore a sabbard and sheath with no sword, emphasising the peace between people during Christmas as people feel full of Christmas cheer and happiness. Also everyone is included in Christmas as there is no discrimination to who can participate and so a sword to drive people away is not needed. The ghost ‘bore a glowing torch… and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge’, which means the giant tries to enlighten Scrooge. The torch is a magical one, that sprinkles Christmas Spirit on the people that allow it to enter.
It makes people cheerful and thankful. The torch and it’s sprinkle represent compassion, kidness, hope, happiness and joy. The giant is a protector as under it’s robe it hides two small children that are Ignorance and Want. The ghost, as it represents Christmas, only lives for the Christmas season and so dissapears after Christmas day. The last ghost to visit Scrooge is the ghost of Christmas yet to come. This ghost is almost the opposite of the last two ghosts; they symbolise in some way hope, this ghost shows a grim future ahead.
All of it’s body is hidden under a black garment, to represent the mystery of the future. ‘It would have been difficult to… separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded’, also emphesises the darkness of the ghost, and the uncertainty of where you will end up in the future. All that is visble of the ghost is it’s hand that points onward, symbolising how life goes on into the unknown. The ghost is silent, grave and slow, symbolic of death which is the only certainty in people’s lifes.