Themes (A Christmas Carol)

This section explores the key Themes in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Generosity, compassion and the Christmas spirit

The Novella takes place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and uses the ideas of generosity and compassion that we associate with Christmas to highlight the transformation of Scrooge.

Christmas is a time when families and friends come together in the home to share food and exchange gifts but it’s also a time when we’re supposed to think of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Scrooge’s nephew and his clerk show compassion towards Scrooge which is in stark contrast to those who coldly dismiss him (fellow business people, his servants, the pawn shop owner) as he does them. Dickens’ shows us in the novella that if you show others a lack of compassion they will not show you compassion.

Redemption and Free will

Seeing the error of your ways and being saved from sin or evil is a key theme of the novella. Scrooge is transformed from a mean, greedy and lonely old miser, who was blind to his sin, into a generous, good-natured, beloved character.

Charles Dickens’ taps into a key Victorian Christian value that sinners can be saved from damnation as human beings have the opportunity to make choices and behave in kinder ways towards each other.

Social injustice

Dickens’ uses the story to question the unequal distribution of wealth in society.  The rich enjoy comfort and feasting at Christmas and ignore the dreadful living conditions of the poor; in fact, they effectively punish the poor for their poverty by sending them to Workhouses.

Scrooge is used in the novella to represent the Victorian rich while the Cratchits represent the working poor. When the thieving workers divvy up the possessions of the dead Scrooge their actions are justified as he was a miser and if he had not been they wouldn’t have needed to steal from him.

The supernatural

Victorians were interested in spiritualism and the supernatural as people believed in spirits who resided in the afterlife wanted to communicate with the living. In a Christmas Carol we see four spirits visit Scrooge and they help him realise the error of his ways.

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