The transformation of Scrooge is central to the story. Davis considers Scrooge to be "a protean figure always in process of reformation"; 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". 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.[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". Dickens's attitudes towards organised religion were complex;[n 9] he based his beliefs and principles on the New Testament. 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.[n 10]
Other writers, including Kelly, consider that Dickens put forward a "secular vision of this sacred holiday". The Dickens scholar John O. Jordan argues that A Christmas Carol shows what Dickens referred to in a letter to his friend John Forster 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". 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.
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. 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. The two figures were created to arouse sympathy with readers—as was Tiny Tim. 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.