The Role of the Spirits in Convincing Scrooge That He Needs to Change
This paper will explore how Dickens uses each of these mysterious spirits to persuade Scrooge that he needs to change. At the beginning of the novel, Scrooge is a cold-hearted, tight-fisted and greedy man, who despises Christmas and all things that give people happiness. This is exemplified when the donation collectors approach Scrooge expecting a donation to help the poor at Christmas. Scrooge is quick to decline, and he says ‘It’s not my business, it’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with others. A Christmas Carol takes us on a journey with this unconscionable man as we see his ethics and philosophy challenged, the way he has lived his life in the past, presently and how if he continues on this pathway, his life will unfold in the future. The few words in this quote, are enough to paint a clear picture of a selfish man who has no regard for others and justifies his stance with the excuse it is not my business.
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It is indubitably clear that at this point Scrooge regards himself as a man who has no philanthropic responsibility.
The Ghost of Christmas Past is the first spirit to visit Scrooge. First this ghost takes Scrooge to see himself in the past when he a young schoolboy. Scrooge is shown that his father abandoned him at his boarding school, even during Christmas. This infers to Scrooge that the reason why he doesn’t socialize because he never experienced steady growth as a child in a strong family unit. This helps Scrooge to understand that he is the way he is due to childhood neglect, thus inferring to him that he can and should change.
Next the ghost shows Scrooge how his money and work obsessed nature led his fiancee, Belle, to leave him. This associates the loss of Scrooge’s fiancee with his selfish nature thus compelling him further to change the selfish aspects of his life. The next ghost that visits Scrooge is The Ghost of Christmas Present. This spirit takes Scrooge to see the happiness of his nephew’s social circle and the Cratchit family. Scrooge, upon noticing that Mister and Misses Cratchit’s son Tiny Tim is lame, feels empathetic and thus asks The Ghost of Christmas Present if he will survive.
The ghost confirms this, but uses Scrooge’s past unkind comments to two charitable solicitors against him, saying “…they had better do it now, and decrease the surplus population. ” By seeing first hand the happiness that he was missing out on due to his lonely lifestyle, Scrooge begins to see that he should change his The last spirit that visits Scrooge is The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. This spirit shows Scrooge the final consequences of his chosen life style. Among these consequences is the death of Tiny Tim, which leads to the mourning of his family.
Scrooge also gets shown his own final legacy, a cheap tombstone in an unkempt graveyard. The contrast between the affects of both Scrooge and Tiny Tim’s death is demonstrable. Tiny Tim is sourly missed and his family is grieving for him. In comparison, Scrooge’s solitary life and intolerance of those in need ultimately leads others to find only comfort and happiness from his death. This makes it blatantly obvious to Scrooge that if he wishes to avoid this terrible fate, he must make a dramatic change in his life. And so it can be seen that through the apparition of spirits, Scrooge is persuaded that he needs to change.
Indeed, Scrooge became a model of generosity and kindness, towards the people around him as is clearly shown when Dickens says “Many laughed to see this alteration in him, but he let them laugh and little heeded them, for he knew that no good thing in this world ever happened, at which some did not have their fill of laughter. ” The spirits achieved this change Scrooge through showing him the childhood neglect that resulted in his miserable attitude, by showing him the happiness that he is missing out on because of his solitary nature, and by showing him the terrible fate that he will surely meet if he doesn’t change.