English christmas carol Text Response Essay

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‘A Christmas Carol’ is not a simple tale as it has a political element embedded into the plot that criticises and delivers a 'sledgehammer blow against poverty' in the Victorian Era. The main character Scrooge, suggests that by helping “support the establishments” such as the Treadmill, Poor Law, Union workhouses and prisons, he has done enough, “and those who are badly off must go there”. Dickens however, uses satire in this passage to show the audience that just because he has payed taxes, Scrooge has still clearly not done enough- suggesting to society that they too, have not done enough. Dickens then addresses Malthus’ essay on starvation when Scrooge states that the poor “had better [die] and decrease the surplus population”. It is clear to the audience that through this statement, Dickens is ridiculing Malthus’ idea that the solution to the ‘surplus population’ is to let the poor die of starvation. He is proposing its stupidity and heartlessness when even Scrooge, a character “which no steel had ever struck a generous fire” is shocked and a little ashamed as he follows up with “besides –excuse me- I don’t know that”. Dickens similarly addresses poverty with the character Fred, who is “all in a glow” and embodies the idea of ‘Christmas spirit’ where “men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they were fellow-passengers to the grave”. In conversation with Fred, Scrooge says “what right have you to be merry? ... You’re poor enough”. Similarly, Dickens uses irony to demolish the concept that the poor in the Victorian Era deserve to be unhappy. Dickens counters this argument by saying “what right have [Scrooge] to be dismal? ... [He’s] rich enough” which shows ironically, that even though the rich are rich, they are also unhappy, meaning that the poor do not deserve to be unhappy just because they are poor. Together, these criticisms make this novella a powerful one as it questions and criticises the ideas surrounding poverty in the Victorian Era.

An essential element that gives empowerment to ‘A Christmas Carol’ is the theme of reformation. Throughout the novella, readers are encouraged to be “jovial and full of glee”. Dickens uses a clear, didactic tone to encourage the audience to “learn a lesson... [and] profit by it”. He uses Scrooge’s reformation and eager attitude to “conduct [him] where you will”, to inspire his audience to change also. For Scrooge, a character in which “no warmth could warm” eventually “could not hide the light” nor forbid “a freer passage to his tears”. Dickens uses these passages to reinforce the idea that everyone can change, showing that if such a “tight-fisted hand at the grindstone” as Scrooge is capable of…