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Christmas Carol

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Submitted By khalid234
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“Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which if persevered in, they must lead . . . But if the courses be departed from, then ends will change”. Discuss.

Set against the backdrop of nineteenth century London, Charles Dickens' timeless novella “A Christmas Carol” illustrates the transformation of the protagonist Ebenezer Scrooge from a cruel and and greedy miser to a kind and benevolent human being. Throughout this “ghostly” tale, Scrooge is placed on a psychological continuum that allows readers to observe his gradual progress from a recluse to a man of compassion to highlight the abundance of life's riches when material gain does not become one's “golden idol”. Through characters such as Jacob Marley, Dickens not only emphasises on the inevitable doom of those who act selfishly as they will lead a life full of regret and isolation from those they love but also highlights how selfish actions can lead to devastating consequences that not only affect one's life but also the lives of those less fortunate. However, Dickens also conveys the moral message to his readers that through guidance and the willingness to be enlightened by others, we all have the capacity to change ourselves, and in the process better our lives and the lives of others.

Fixated with materials goods at the expense of human connection, Scrooge's lack of morality is evident in the novella through his Malthusian mindset regarding the poor, as he claims that “if they be like to die, then they had better do it and decrease the surplus population” as well as his refusal to donate to charity. As such, Dickens realises the need for such people like Scrooge to alter their behaviours and values for the betterment of society. Through the character of Jacob Marley, Dickens highlights that a selfish and greedy life will only result in doom after death. Marley not only foreshadows an afterlife for Scrooge full of “incessant torture and remorse” as those who did not “walk forth in life were condemned to do so after death” but also truly drives home the moral message that it is the responsibility of every individual to be concerned in the welfare of others. After leading a life full of greed and self-interest, Marley is forced to remain trapped between life and death, while wearing the “chain [he] forged in life”. Furthermore, the utter misery experienced by selfish individuals is further demonstrated by the group of spirits shown to Scrooge that are “interlinked and none of them free”. These spirits yearn for a chance to help and benefit society but have lost the opportunity to do so. It is these shocking revelations that enable Scrooge to realise that if he does not make an effort to change his miserly and misanthropic ways, he will ultimately suffer the same outcome as the unfortunate Jacob Marley, who is forced to “linger everywhere due to the unsatisfactory nature of spending eternity accomplishing nothing”. Hence, Dickens invites readers to share Scrooge's perspective and relate with his terror by not only underpinning how a selfish life would be devoid of the warmth and solace of human interaction but also emphasising how our choices in life would “foreshadow certain ends”.

Additionally, it is through the understanding of the warmth and kindness of the people around him that Scrooge begins to alter his way of life and choose to adopt more humane attitudes. As he watches the poor and destitute Cratchit family celebrate a meager Christmas dinner, Scrooge begins to realise that their presence together is the true reason for their happiness rather than the amount of food or the lavishness of their surroundings. Such compassion and kindness expressed by the Cratchits serve to contrast against Scrooge's selfish and self-interested ways, prompting him to regret his own life and behaviour. Hence, Scrooge's gradual willingness to accept and not block the “lessons [he] learns” allows him to reform and change into a better human being. This is captured by Scrooge's actions in the final stave when he approaches the “portly gentlemen” and pledges to them a donation so large that it made one of the men “gasp as if his breath were gone”. Thus, Dickens shows that even individuals like Scrooge can change their choices in life if given guidance and education by others who are willing to teach.

Dickens also makes use of Tiny Tim to emphasise on the point that the “surplus population is “comprised of individual faces”. In the first stave, Scrooge cruelly remarks that the poor and needy, if they were dying or close to death, should simply succumb and decrease the excess population. But when he takes in the pitiable sight of Tiny Tim, Scrooge begins to comprehend the injustice of his words when he observes firsthand what it would mean to decrease the excess population and he begs the spirit “to say [Tiny Tim] would be spared”. Through the character of Tiny Tim, Scrooge not only understands the true value of human life but also begins to realise that he has a social responsibility towards the poor and needy. This moral message is truly driven home by the outcome of Scrooge's transformation through the sharing of his material wealth that not only snatches Tiny Tim from the jaws of death but also lifts the Cratchits out of their financial poverty. Hence, Dickens shows the impact the transformation of a single wealthy individual has to society and conveys the message that we are all capable of altering our choices in life for the better which would ultimately lead to more desirable and positive outcomes.

Dickens' novella “A Christmas Carol” illustrates a heart-warming realisation of a miser who exchanges his obsession with gold for his human identity which is triggered by his understanding that everyone around him are “fellow passengers to the grave”. This is demonstrated by the meaningful advice of Jacob Marley to Scrooge as well as through the illustration of the love and companionship within the Cratchit family in the most difficult of circumstances. Dickens' overall message to his readers is that we are all capable of causing a positive change in our lives and in the process, cause a positive change in the lives of others as well.

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