In the novella, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge is a tight-fisted, crotchety pessimist who despises everything that is Christmas. He has little patience or understanding of those who value human connection and the spirit of giving, over idolizing money and financial status. With a permanent scowl on his face and a harsh biting tone, Scrooge chases away a young boy caroling outside his workplace and even chastises his demure employee Bob Cratchit, suggesting that he was scamming him out of money because Cratchit wants to spend Christmas with his family. Despite this miserly disposition, however, Scrooge rediscovers the value of love and human connection after enlightening visits from three ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.
Through hardships in his life, including being forgotten by his father at a boarding school during his youth, Scrooge has grown a hard-outer shell that appraises the worthiness of one’s life based solely upon their financial security. This personal philosophy comes in direct conflict with the joy and good cheer of Christmas. After his young enthusiastic nephew, Fred, pays his uncle a visit at his counting house to extend an invitation to Christmas dinner, Scrooge is clearly annoyed by this exuberance. “Every idiot who goes about with a ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should.” (1.4) The descriptive nature of Scrooge’s words portray just how disengaged his thought processes are when surrounded by kindness and warmth. He shuts people out by lashing out with scathing words ending any further conversation on the matter. This demeanor is further exemplified when Scrooge is asked to give a donation to help the poor enjoy a nice Christmas meal. The destitute personify weakness and ineptitude to Scrooge. The solicitors are new to the area and clearly have no idea with whom they are speaking. First Scrooge suggests that the prison system and workhouses are fine institutions where the poor can find a meal. He followed this proclamation with the remark, “If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”(1.6)
Through his journey with the ghost of Christmas past, Scrooge relives moments of his childhood. He fondly recalls his little sister Fran and the special bond the two shared. Although he mourns her untimely death, he is reminded that she lives on through her only child, Fred. And it is to Fred’s home that the ghost then visits with Scrooge. Here they witness a group of friends dancing, laughing, and bonding with each other. Scrooge subtly taps his foot along to the music and even asks the ghosts to stay a bit longer. Yet it is at the home of Bob Cratchit where Scrooge makes a discovery that perpetuates his transformation. Although Cratchit has been employed for years by Marley and Scrooge, Scrooge realizes that he never knew that one of his children, Tim, was crippled. Scrooge seems to be sincerely concerned for the young Cratchit’s wellbeing. “Spirit,” said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, “tell me if Tiny Tim will live.”(3.29) This shows a level of care and empathy that Scrooge had not demonstrated thus far in the novella.
Nevertheless, after all three ghosts have paid their visit, Scrooge’s desire to seek redemption is clear. He does not want to be bound in chains by his past regressions. “He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people. Hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head, and questioned the beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk- that anything- could give him so much happiness. In the afternoon he turned his steps towards his nephew’s house.” (5.48) Now, Ebenezer Scrooge is actively trying to connect with those around him. He is patting the children on the head, not chasing them off with a ruler. Instead of being disgusted by, he is engaging, the beggars in conversation. Scrooge has morphed into a man who has a new lease on life and plans on doing good with what he has to offer.
The transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge evolves after he is visited by three ghosts who help him to remember his past, reflect on his present situation, and make restitution and change so as change his future. This story of redemption is a wonderful message to us all, not only at Christmas time but throughout the entire year. We can be hopeful that it is never too late to change and to value what is truly important in one’s life, the people that we love.