A Christmas Carol

Themes

The transformation of Scrooge is central to the story.[47] Davis considers Scrooge to be "a protean figure always in process of reformation";[48] Kelly writes that the transformation is reflected in the description of Scrooge, who begins as a two-dimensional character, but who then grows into one who "possess[es] an emotional depth [and] a regret for lost opportunities".[49] Some writers, including Grace Moore, the Dickens scholar, consider that there is a Christian theme running through A Christmas Carol, and that the novella should be seen as an allegory of the Christian concept of redemption.[50][n 8] Dickens's biographer, Claire Tomalin sees the conversion of Scrooge as carrying the Christian message that "even the worst of sinners may repent and become a good man".[53] Dickens's attitudes towards organised religion were complex;[n 9] he based his beliefs and principles on the New Testament.[52] Dickens's statement that Marley "had no bowels" is a reference to the "bowels of compassion" mentioned in the First Epistle of John, the reason for his eternal damnation.[56][n 10]

Other writers, including Kelly, consider that Dickens put forward a "secular vision of this sacred holiday".[11] The Dickens scholar John O. Jordan argues that A Christmas Carol shows what Dickens referred to in a letter to Foster as his "Carol philosophy, cheerful views, sharp anatomisation of humbug, jolly good temper ... and a vein of glowing, hearty, generous, mirthful, beaming reference in everything to Home and Fireside".[57] From a secular viewpoint, the cultural historian Penne Restad suggests that Scrooge's redemption underscores "the conservative, individualistic and patriarchal aspects" of Dickens's "Carol philosophy" of charity and altruism.[58]

Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in response to British social attitudes towards poverty, particularly child poverty, and wished to use the novella as a means to put forward his arguments against it.[59] The story shows Scrooge as a paradigm for self-interest, and the possible repercussions of ignoring the poor, especially children in poverty—personified by the allegorical figures of Want and Ignorance.[60] The two figures were created to arouse sympathy with readers—as was Tiny Tim.[61] Douglas-Fairhurst observes that the use of such figures allowed Dickens to present his message of the need for charity, without alienating his largely middle-class readership.[62]


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