A Christmas Carol' Redemption Essay

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A Christmas Carol follows the redemption of a rich and miserly character called Scrooge. He learns how important it is to be responsible for others in society. Dickens wrote the novella in 1843, just after the Poor Law Amendment Act which further worsened the conditions for those living in poverty. Victorian society was extremely religious and polite, yet it had clear divides between the poor and rich classes.

In the extract, Dickens uses asyndetic listing: 'yellow, meager, ragged, scowling, wolfish' to show how society is at fault for the squalor of the poor. Dickens presents the characters' Ignorance and Want as strange and undesirable with the extensive list of adjectives, the negative semantic field that these adjectives create highlights to the Victorian audience that these entities are metaphorically the result of extreme poverty and so society should strive to get rid of poverty so that these 'monsters' don't exist in the first place. Furthermore, Ignorance and Want are represented as desperate yet angry, which underpins how Dickens thought that it was imperative to help the poor which is also evidenced by Dickens creating sympathy for these characters as 'meager' has connotations of inadequacy and insufficiency of food, comfort, kindness, and help for example.

Elsewhere in the novel, Dickens exposes the horrible conditions for the working class evidenced by 'half-naked, drunken, slipshod, ugly'. The asyndetic listing shows the readers the disagreeable conditions made for the poor and reveals how hurtful the upper classes' apathetic attitudes are. Victorian society was firmly split between rich and poor after the Industrial Revolution created huge amounts of inequality, Dickens criticizes the financial inequality as many of the rich were uneducated and partially wilfully ignorant towards the struggles of the poor. Additionally, Scrooge reacts 'in horror'. His physical reaction points out how shocked he is which in turn presents the affluent classes as wilfully ignorant due to the Malthusian beliefs of the time that the poor are deserving of their situation. It is clear, through Dickens's depiction of how the wealthy view the poor as deserving of their bad living conditions, and that poverty is due to an inherently failing society, which makes the audience question the Malthusian attitudes

In the extract, Dickens warns society of the consequences of continued ignorance and unwillingness to help the poor. He exploits religious language: 'devils lurked' to demonstrate how Ignorance and Want represent modern evils. Additionally, the Ghost of Christmas Present points out that continued negligence towards the poor would lead to the 'Doom' of society. Dickens uses the Ghost as his mouthpiece to hint that society needs to address the lack of education received by the poor, and overall the wealthy must take responsibility for the poor. Dickens's views were driven by his childhood experience of poverty and the appalling conditions, and so he has the intention for the wealthy reader to experience poverty, as he did as a child, which may lead to them changing their views. Dickens also criticizes the Poor Law Amendment Act as it reduced any help towards the poor, which is what led to the creation of Ignorance and Want and will eventually lead to the 'Doom' of society.

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Elsewhere in the novel, Dickens presents the poor as resourceful and respectable, in contrast to the Malthusian beliefs that the poor were profligate and licentious. Dickens challenges the Malthusian beliefs when Mrs Cratchit is dressed in a 'twice-turned gown' which demonstrates that the Cratchits are grateful for what they have. Furthermore, the Cratchit family is presented as morally better than most- this is most prominent when Tiny Tim says 'God bless us every one!'. The religious language shows that Tim is a well-mannered and thoughtful Christian, despite his illness and less-than-ideal living conditions, which encourages the audience to sympathize with the Cratchit family and consequently strive for social reform. Alternatively, the presentation of the Cratchit family in this way shows that being 'rich' means far more than simply having a lot of money, as they are portrayed as a contented, perfect family and so, therefore, they are emotionally rich.

In the extract, Dickens exposes the hypocrisy of the affluent classes, showing how the poor were continually mistreated. The Spirit echoes Scrooge's words in Stave 1: 'Are there no prisons?' which exemplifies how the poor were viewed as insignificant and needy and how they are treated as objects. The questioning and repetition show Victorian society how harsh and unhelpful the Malthusian beliefs are, Dickens is highlighting how cold the affluent classes are, which encourages social reform. Victorian prisons had horrific conditions, such as little food and sanitation, leading to the fact that 'many would rather die' than go to a prison or a workhouse. This again demonstrates the plight of the poor, reinforcing Dickens's message that the wealthy must do more to support the poor.

Earlier on in the novel, Belle expresses how Scrooge lives in fear of poverty, and so is fixated by 'the master-passion, Gain'. This deepens the hypocrisy of Scrooge and the rest of the affluent classes as it is clear that they know how awful poverty can be, but choose to not help and consequently become selfish due to the fear that they have. Scrooge's fear of poverty echoes Dickens's concerns about money, especially due to his childhood experience of working in a blacking factory, yet Dickens was very charitable, so he uses himself as a role model for others to show how beneficial charity is. This is underpinned when Fred points out that Scrooge's wealth 'is of no use to him', which implies that others would benefit far more at little to no cost to Scrooge, it is evident that Dickens's is highly encouraging charity to improve conditions for the poor

Overall, throughout the novel, the squalor of the poor is repetitively referred to, to create sympathy, which encourages social reform. This is furthermore reinforced by the positive depiction of charity, and how wealth is much less significant than being happy, for example. Dickens challenges the Malthusian beliefs by presenting Scrooge in a negative light before his redemption to encourage the reader to dislike his character and therefore his selfish attitudes and beliefs.

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A Christmas Carol’ Redemption Essay. (2024, February 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/a-christmas-carol-redemption-essay/
“A Christmas Carol’ Redemption Essay.” Edubirdie, 29 Feb. 2024, edubirdie.com/examples/a-christmas-carol-redemption-essay/
A Christmas Carol’ Redemption Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/a-christmas-carol-redemption-essay/> [Accessed 18 Apr. 2024].
A Christmas Carol’ Redemption Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2024 Feb 29 [cited 2024 Apr 18]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/a-christmas-carol-redemption-essay/

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