A Christmas Carol

12 December 2016

A Christmas Carol is a cliched moral fable with no possible relevance to the 21st century. ” A Christmas Carol was set in the 1800’s where poverty was common and death, an everyday occurrence. Charles Dickens, the author, had a true sense of passion towards the poor as he came from humble beginnings. The novel shows a clear contrast between both the rich and the poor, the poor were portrayed as very disordered and barbaric whereas the rich were painted as being ordered, pleasant and extravagant.

A connection can be established with the 21st century with these comparisons in mind. It has relevance due to the way society is shaped today, many classes today exist. Dickens did not write a cliched moral fable without relevance to the 21st century it is clear that he wanted the themes and messages to be able to be passed through the generations and then shape the way people act in society today.

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Charles Dickens displays to the audience that true happiness comes through joining in with humanity and community.

Prioritising money will only lead to a lonely death, as is represented by Scrooge’s partner, Jacob Marley “I wear the chain I forged in life…I made it link by link” (Marley – Page 47-48). Marley appears to Scrooge as unhappy and wearing a heavy burden, which is represented by the chains. The chains display the life Jacob Marley had lived, being, a cold and heartless, he did not participate in anything that would not benefit him solely, good deeds were never done. Many characters like Jacob Marley exist in the 21st Century, they are generally unhappy and do not live long, productive lives.

Good deeds must be done to be granted real happiness and this is also a clear message that is consistent throughout the text. The 21st century is becoming a mirror of the 19th. The 19th century, due to rapidly expanding industrialization, saw an appalling rise in poverty, and the exploitation of poor children, who were often forced to work in the rapidly expanding factories. Today this is happening all over the world and especially in developing countries. Charles Dickens wrote this novel at the beginning of the Hungry Forties, this being a period of intense suffering for the working classes.

Dickens sought to make his comfortable middle-class readers aware of the appalling poverty around them. This can contrast to what is going on today in our society, poverty exists everywhere and it is also important to be aware and then assist in any way possible to then help those who need it. Dickens revisits his indignation at this degrading treatment of some of society’s most vulnerable people in A Christmas Carol when Scrooge demands of the two gentlemen collecting subscriptions for the poor, ‘The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then? (p. 38). These words come back to haunt Scrooge several times in the course of the text and the inhumanity of his question is emphasised by his increased discomfort when confronted with his words. It is no coincidence that Dickens’s narrative occurs at Christmas, this honouring the birth of Jesus. He was reacting to the fact that even in 1843 Christmas was beginning to lose its true meaning with the introduction of Christmas trees, greeting cards and presents.

It is in essence a Christian fable with the message that the meek, such as Bob Cratchit, are truly worthy and that charity is a noble cause. In the 21st century we may be less religious than the Victorians of 19th-century England, but we still recognise the message and may similarly react to the commercialisation of Christmas. The audience from the 21st century may play down the religious elements of the story and highlight the humanitarian aspect, but the gist is still the same.

A Christmas Carol allows 21st centuries readers to be able to establish a clear connection to the times that they are living in to the times that Dickens was writing in. It is clear the true happiness comes from good deeds and money does not bring a wealth of happiness. The true meaning of Christmas is also shown, but it is also clear that it was materialised, just as it is today. A Christmas Carol has relevance to the circumstances of the society today and is not only just a cliched moral fable.

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