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Fred as a Foil to Scrooge in A Christmas Carol
In Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Scrooge's selfish, cold, melancholy nature is contrasted with Fred, Scrooge's light-hearted nephew. At the beginning of the novel, Fred and Scrooge are complete opposites, but, as the novel progresses, they become more and more alike. Throughout the novel, Dickens uses Fred to show Scrooge's transformation from a cold, unfeeling man to a man of warmth and compassion.
The first time Fred is seen is on page 5 when he greets Scrooge with, "A merry Christmas, Uncle! God save you!" Scrooge's reply is "Bah! Humbug!" The statement Fred makes shows that he cares about even the coldest beings. Scrooge's reply shows that he is closed to joyous things and it also hints that he is not saved. From their first meeting in the book, their character differences are obvious.
During their conversation, Fred and Scrooge reveal their definitions of the word "good." Fred tells Scrooge, "There are many things from which I might have derived good by which I have not profited" This shows that Scrooge's definition of Good is money. Later on, Fred states that he has always thought of Christmastime "as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time." This defines Fred's "good" as kind, forgiving, charitable, and pleasant.
After Fred leaves, two gentlemen come to Scrooge and ask for money for the poor. His response is, "Are there no prisons? And the union workhouses? Are they still in operation?" One of the gentlemen replies, "They are. Still, I wish I could say they were not." Scrooge's remark shows that he doesn't care about poor people. He does not care if they live or die, just as long as he is comfortable. The two gentlemen are shocked by this.
At the beginning of Stave II, Scrooge lies awake considering that he could, "no more go to sleep than go to heaven." This shows that he probably isn't going to heaven.
On page 43, Dicken's gives a glimpse of Scrooge's warm personality that has been muted by the cold, horrible events that have happened to him. When he says, "Why, it's old Fezziwig! Bless his heart; it's Fezziwig alive again!" Scrooge uses the word "bless" to show that he cared for Fezziwig.
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After the Ghost of Christmas Past has left and the Ghost of Christmas Present enters, Scrooge's personality seems to change drastically. This is evident when he says, "Spirit, conduct me where you will. I went forth last night on compulsion, and I learned a lesson which is working now. Tonight, if you have aught to teach me, let me profit by it!" This statement shows Scrooge has become submissive.
When Scrooge finds that Tiny Tim will die within a year and the Ghost of Christmas Present quotes Scrooge's words about "decreasing the surplus population", Scrooge, "hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with pentience and grief." This shows that Scrooge has feelings and that he is changing. When Scrooge said those words, he saw nothing wrong wtih them; when the Spirit quotes them, Scrooge becomes sad.
Fred is mentioned again on page 81 when the narrator states that, "If you should happen, by any unlikely chance, to know a man more blessed in laugh than Scrooge's nephew" This shows that Fred is fun to be around and he has many friends. During Fred's party, many people ridicule Scrooge and show they have given up on him. Fred says that he is " sorry for him (Scrooge): I couldn't be angry with him if I tried." Fred's statement shows he is very patient. He is also bull-headed because he won't give up on Scrooge.
When Fred finds that Tiny Tim has died, he says to Bob Cratchit, "I am heartily sorry for it, Mr. Cratchit, and heartily sorry for your good wife." Saying this shows that he cares. Fred went out of his way to pay his respects to Mr. Cratchit.
As Scrooge unveils his grave, he is overcome with grief. Frantically, he asks the Spirit of Things to Come if these shadows may be altered. The Spirit says nothing. Scrooge states that he is "not the man I was." This shows that he is changed! He is a completely different man and wants to be different.
During the 5th stave, Scrooge is joyous. On page 120, it says that "Scrooge regarded everyone with a delightful smile. He looked so irresistably pleasant." This shows that Scrooge has made a complete turnaround. He is kind, loving, caring, and people talk to him. Later on, Scrooge says "Thankee. I am much obliged to you. I thank you 50 times. Bless you!" This statement also shows how Scrooge has completely changed.
Fred's presence in Dickens' A Christmas Carol is very intentional. His warm, vibrant personality helps show the dramatic change in Scrooge's personality.