Charles Dickens’ novella ‘A Christmas Carol’ orbits around Ebenezer Scrooge, capturing through him, the essence of Christmas as he undergoes a personality transformation from a remorseless businessman to a generous and caring benefactor. Being charitable certainly falls under the umbrella of generosity, however as the novella progresses, we learn through our protagonist that the desire to be altruistic exceeds the boundaries of simply donating money. Scrooge’s personality adopts an entirely new direction, as he learns to respect the value of family, Christmas and life, thus exemplifying the soul meaning of generosity. This is also explicitly justifiable via our protagonist’s change in language and attitude towards the poor and orphaned.h
Summary of Chapter One
On Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge is working in his counting house, along with his clerk, Bob Cratchit. (Scrooge’s treats his employee like a prisoner. ‘The door of Scrooge’s counting house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters’ (page 35)).
Scrooge is visited by his nephew, who wishes him a ‘Merry Christmas,’ however Scrooge, being the bitter man that he is, responds with a simple ‘Bah! Humbug!’ To Scrooge, Christmas is a nonsensical celebration which has no significance in his money orientated world.
His nephew, Fred, however values Christmas greatly, as it is a pleasant time and nonetheless invites Scrooge to dine with him tomorrow. Scrooge however declines.
Two portly gentlemen enter and ask Scrooge for charity for the poor. Scrooge refuses to donate any money and suggests that prisons and workhouses are more than enough. Scrooge’s distaste for Christmas is further exemplified when he scares away a Christmas caroller.
Scrooge reluctantly allows his clerk a day off on Christmas.
Arriving at his gloomy house, Scrooge’s door knocker is momentarily replaced with Jacob Marley’s face. Soon after, Jacob Marley enters Scrooge’s bedroom. Marley’s spirit is restless. He is being punished for consuming himself in business matters alone and does not wish the same fate upon Scrooge.
In order to avoid the same fate, Jacob Marley tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts.
What do we learn about Scrooge in this Stave?
We learn that Scrooge is a sour businessman who is money driven and has no liking towards Christmas. It is evident through his frequent usage of the word ‘Bah! Humbug!’ that he loathes Christmas and views the holiday as an insignificant event.
Scrooge represents the greediest of Victorian England’s rich. It is him, and those like him, who oppress the underclass and value nothing but money. This is explicitly exemplified in the following scenarios; when he refuses to be charitable (he dismisses the idea of donating money to the poor) and also in the way he treats Bob Cratchit who is a representative of the underclass.
Scrooge treats his clerk the way a guard treats a prisoner. ‘The door of Scrooge’s counting house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters.’ Cratchit is under constant surveillance as Scrooge ‘keeps his eye upon’ him who works in an area likened to a cell. We are given a thorough insight into Scrooge’s remorseless personality through this scene. Furthermore, the reference to Scrooge having more coal than the clerk shows the division between the underclass and the wealthy.