Eachtime a ghost visits Scrooge, he will become more aware of the failures of thesociety he lives in. The ghosts will also let Scrooge see his contributions tothose failures. As Dickens writes the story of the three visits, we are able toout more about Scrooge’s inner self-character. We learn this about him as hefinds out about his own fellow man and his community.
The crux of the story isalluded to in the ingenious metaphors Dickens creeates to illustrate his ownreflection on Nineteenth Century society. In the beginning of the story, Scroogeand his assistant Bob Cratchit are working at Scrooge’s counting house on a verycold night, Christmas Eve. Scrooge’s offices are nearly freezing, because ofthe dreadful weather. They depend on using coal to keep warm. Scrooge issatisfied with a very small fire that he barely keeps going.
More than that hethinks is unnecessary warmth. On the other hand, Bob Cratchit’s fire is nothingbut one dying morsel of coal. “Scrooge had a very small fire, but hisclerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. ” Theirony in only using a small piece of coal is that they both had two entirelydifferent reasons for not using more coal.
Bob Cratchit is Scrooge’simpoverished assistant, who can’t afford to buy more coal to kindle up warmth inhis office. If he had enough money to improve his working condition, he would. On the other hand, Scrooge had more than enough money to buy coal for his officeand Bob’s. He didn’t find that necessary. Dickens makes reference to this as heshows how Scrooge doesn’t find it necessary to build up more warmth in hisoffice, or even to offer to keep his assistant’s office warm, when he writes”But he (Bob Cratchit) couldn’t replenish it (the fire), for Scrooge keptthe coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with theshovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part.
“The situation is much deeper than it appears. Dickens has not only created aspiteful and stingy character, but he creates a Scrooge whose very body is cold. The fact that Scrooge doesn’t mind that his office is cold reveals that he isboth physically and mentally a cold person. Throughout literature the use of hotand cold plays as two basic metaphors for love and hate: loneliness.
Scroogedoesn’t need warmth as a result of being a malevolent and bitter person. Hedoesn’t have family or friends to share his love and heart with, so he developedinto a person who was numb to his own warm feelings. The only emotions that areleft are the bitter ones he has for his society. Dickens uses Marley’s chains asa metaphor as well. We should pay attention to what Marley and Scrooge wereknown for. Scrooge and Marley were both concerned about their money more thananything else that Dickens writes about.
The two were so concerned about earningmoney, that the two didn’t care how they got it. Each of them wanted to bealone. The chains that were “forged in life” by Marley were chains ofguilt and sin. These chains were fashioned while Marley made money at otherpeople’s expenses, and were linked out of his lack of concern for what he did inlife. Marley, like Scrooge, knew well of the poverty most people suffered.
Theirsins were that they showed no sympathy for unfortunate people. They both hidtheir sympathy in order to repress their guilt. Dickens writes more aboutMarley’s greed when he describes Marley. “His body transparent: so thatScrooge, observing him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the twobuttons on his coat behind. ” “Scrooge had often heard it said thatMarley had no bowels, but he had never believed it until now. ” And”the very texture of the folded kerchief bound about its head and chin,which wrapper he had not observed before.
. . ” Dickens has illustrated aphantom who one can see right through, has nothing let in his body, and needs ahandkerchief to keep his jaw from dropping “down upon his breast!”When examining the different elements that made up Marley’s Ghost, it becomesclear Dickens was amplified how greedy Marley really was. The bandage thatMarley must keep wrapped around his head is the first connection to greed.
As apart of his punishment, Marley needs the bandage wrapped around his head or hismouth will drop to his chest. It symbolizes how Marley consumed things withoutstopping, everything that entered his possession. Having no bowels is a way ofsaying that nothing left Marley’s possession. Dickens got across that Marley leteverything in, but gavenothing. In addition to Scrooge being cold bothphysically and mentally, there is the matter of fog that seems to pursue himlike the rats that followed the Pied Piper of Hamlin.
Wherever Scrooge goes,Dickens manages to strengthen his description of Scrooge as being surroundedwith a gathering of deep, endless fog. This is more than a descriptive tool, butalso a deep metaphor that sums up what’s wrong with Scrooge. The fog serves as awall for the character. It is not only a blinding vapor, but also a blanket thatshelters him from other people. It keeps him separate and remote from the restof the world he travels about day to day.
Ultimately, Scrooge is charged withcreating the fog. He keeps himself away from the world, even though the worldreaches out him. The fog isolates him from the warmth of human compassion, fromhimself and others around him. This is evident when Dickens writes,”Foggier yet, and colder! Piercing, searching, biting cold”.
Even whenScrooge was approached by Christmas carolers, “he seized the ruler with suchenergy of action, that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fogand even more congenial frost. ” In this sense, Dickens used the fog to actas a door that slammed after the singer left. It covered everything aroundScrooge’s office including the keyhole. It isolated Scrooge from the outsideworld, and kept him in the place he loved most, his office. “Meanwhile thefog and darkness thickened so, that people ran about with flaring links,proffering their services to go before horses in carriages, and conduct them ontheir way. ” “All he could make out was, that was still very foggy andextremely cold, and that there was no noise of people running to and fro, andmaking great stir, as there unquestionably would have been if night had beatenoff bright day, and taken possession of the world.
” Again Dickens used fogand cold to detach people from Scrooge. Fog was the separation, and cold thedisposition in which it isolated Scrooge. Another metaphor Dickens uses is thechurch bell. “The ancient tower of a church, whose gruff old bell wasalways peeping slily down at Scrooge out of a gothic window in the wall, becamevisible, and struck the hours and quarters in the clouds, with tremulousvibrations afterwards.
. . ” The ancient tower of the church bell is whatDickens used to embody the church and its values. The fact that it is a talltower, reaching into the clouds suggests that it has some kind of spiritualsignificance. Dickens described the tower as “always peeping slily down atScrooge.
” Perhaps this is because Scrooge was doing something very wrong byshutting off his connection to the outside world, and the church knew it. Itseems to stand in back of Scrooge, “peeping slily” at his continuousseclusion. The bells that “struck the hours and quarters in the clouds,with tremulous vibrations. . .
” serves as a reminder for Scrooge. It isreminding him that everything is being observed. Dickens also uses light anddarkness as a creative tool when he talks about the ghosts, and the atmosphereof the story. Like fog and frost, darkness is also found everywhere Scrooge is. Darkness in literature is every selfish man’s personal cloud.
It shadows themfrom other people who see them, and it keeps their sight limited. The darknessfor these characters is like a hallway that has no entrances. The only exit theyuse is one that leads to solitude. Darkness also interrupts the memories Scroogedoesn’t want to think about, memories that Scrooge has “chained up”, andleft in the deepest and darkest parts of his mind. The memories became so darkfor Scrooge that he had decided to hide everything that had once been good inhis life to numb his emotions and interest in humanity. Light, on the otherhand, is most detectable when Dickens writes about the Ghost of Christmas Past.
“Light flashed up in the room upon the instant, and the curtains of his bedwere drawn. ” The light that Dickens writes about is springing from theGhost’s head. The Ghost of Christmas Past serves as a heart-felt guide to hismemories, and the light represents Scrooge’s emotions to what he was feelingabout his well-suppressed memories. Scrooge prefers to be left in the dark,rather than be exposed to light. This is evident when he attempted to represshis recollection of the past, especially the feelings of his past.
“Scroogecould not have told anybody why, if anybody could have asked him; but he had aspecial desire to see the Spirit in his cap; and begged him to be covered. “The Ghost of Christmas Past had a hidden significance also. With memoryuncapped, Scrooge is taken to his past where his joy, pain, and loneliness areall rejoiced. The Ghost takes him to his celebrations, friendships, and even hislove affair. It’s from seeing his past that Scrooge becomes in touch with inneremotions that he had as a child and young adult. It’s with these emotions thatScrooge’s present insensitivity is smothered, and Scrooge feels the first basichuman joy in a long time.
In the end, Dickens reflects his views on what hissociety became to the reader through his rich command of language, and uniquetechnique of bringing metaphors to life. Through his performance in writingskills he was able to tell us the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, and his redemption. Scrooge is reborn after his encounters with four ghosts who showed him how toremember, recognize, and live with intuition. The three Ghosts of ChristmasPast, Present, and Future showed Scrooge how to remember the good things in hislife, cherish and share what he has, and lastly live humbly with the intent withbeing remembered as a good person.
I think that Dickens was trying to tell us,and the people of his time especially, that if we live in the past, present andfuture, and keep those three factors alive, than we can be reborn just likeScrooge was.