A christmas carol

A christmas carol

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Charles Dickens believed it was up to him to inform the people of Britain of the social problems occurring around Britain. While Dickens was a young man, he suffered from poverty along with his mother and father. His father was imprisoned for dept and Charles wanted to become a social reformer. Dickens used these problems as themes for his book ‘A Christmas Carol’. These themes involve poverty, pollution and a changing of ways. Dickens used Scrooge, the main character in the book at first to show how current society was at the time and then at the end, after the visits from the three ghosts, how the society could be. At the start of the book Scrooge is anti-social, greedy and extremely selfish. I believe this is how Britain was at the time. Then, after the visits from the three ghosts scrooge changed and I think that that is what Dickens wanted Britain to do.

The first of the three spirits is the ghost of Christmas past. It had the body of someone elderly, but was surprisingly youthful and powerful. The ghost is described as ‘a strange figure- like a child; yet not so much like a child as like an old man’. It held a brimmed cap, evidently an extinguisher for its head, from which jetted a clear, pure stream of light. This stream of light symbolises that Christmas is a happy time and should be full of light and joy. On the other hand, the extinguisher cap that the spirit was holding was made by people like Scrooge, who use the cap to hide the light of Christmas.

The second spirit is the ghost of Christmas Present. It is a great giant, dressed in a green and surrounded by piles of food. The spirit has a garment, which hangs loosely on him that shows his capacious breast. I believe that this is supposed to show how free and open the spirit is. Another similarity to his openness is his hair. This is described as, ‘dark-brown curls were long and free’ this makes the spirit seem to be totally natural and genuine. The spirit is made to seem kind and cheerful. There are a few phrases suggesting this such as, ‘its open hand’, also it is portrayed as having an antique scabbard with no sword in it which shows that the spirit wanted peace. This proves the spirit is gentle and caring.

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The third of the three spirits is the spirit of Christmas past. The spirit is described very little; I think this is because Dickens wanted to keep it mysterious, as he did not know what the future would be like. The spirit is made approach scrooge scarily ‘slowly, gravely silently approached’. The spirit does not speak which again adds to its mysteriousness. I do not think the spirit speaks because it wants to keep us guessing on what or who it is.

Charles Dickens uses description in ‘A Christmas Carol’ to help get across some of his ideas. Firstly, he uses lots of description whilst talking about the potatoes, which are cooking in the Cratchit household. He used the phrase “the slow potatoes bubbling up, knocked loudly at the saucepan-lid to be let out and peeled.” This makes something relatively boring like some potatoes boiling in water into something full of life. This is also personification. Dickens has the ability to make the most normal things seem interesting e.g. whilst he is describing the Cratchet’s cooking he says “with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.” By Dickens describing this in so much detail, he emphasises how exquisite the whole pudding looks.

Dickens uses a lot of adjectives in a row to describe Ignorance and Want. All of these portray how scary the children are and how they are to be taken seriously. Dickens used “Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish” each of these words gives off a negative feeling that really plays on how dreadful what the children represent could be. The children represent the problems with the society and that by being Ignorant and wanting too much could end up being a major problem. On the other hand, Dickens describes some chestnuts in a shop as “great round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the waist coats of jolly old gentlemen.” I think that Dickens describes them as this to show that Christmas is a happy time where everyone should be happy and a time where nobody should be hungry.

Dickens makes the ghost of Christmas past seem peaceful and affectionate by his description. By saying, “sparkling eye” and “its open hand” These phrases show the spirit is kind and loving.

Another method Dickens uses to get across his point of view is contrast. One of the best times he uses contrast is when scrooge is taken to Fezziwig’s ball by the first spirit that visits him. The atmosphere in both the work places is totally different, Fezziwig is merry and wants he employees to have a good time as it is Christmas. He does not mind that he is paying them even though they are having a day off. On the other hand, Scrooge seems annoyed and even a little bit jealous that he has got to pay Bob Cratchit for a day free form work. Scrooge says, “you’ll want all day off tomorrow, I suppose?” This shows the difference between the to characters personalities as Fezziwig is generous and joyful and scrooge is dull and selfish. Also, Scrooge did not do anything extra for Christmas. He would not even put a few extra pieces of coal on the fire for Bob Cratchit where as, Fezziwig was more that willing to have a big celebration on new years eve.

Dickens also contrasts in the way the two characters speak. On Christmas Eve scrooge uses words such as “humbug” which shows that he does not enjoy Christmas time and that he does not get into the Christmas spirit. Nevertheless, Fezziwig uses language like “yo ho!” and, “hilli ho!”

In addition to further contrast Dickens contrasts the Cratchit family to Scrooge. The Cratchit family are poor but they still manage to have a merry Christmas, yet, Scrooge is very rich but has a dull Christmas and takes it as just another day. This shows how even thought scrooge has the physical possessions in life he does not have the family or friends to enjoy it with. This is the total opposite to the Cratchit household where they have lots of fun but do not have any money. They only just have enough food to go around but they do not mind they only want to have a good time.
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