Dickens the Dreamer
Most people are familiar with the novel by Charles Dickens entitled A Christmas Carol. The novel is told and re-told in multiple variations throughout the Christmas season. Nothing, however, compares to the original text which promotes and encourages kindness and charity in ourselves. Scrooge, the main character in the story, also grows in these qualities but not until he is thrown into a life-changing transformation. Some people believe the ghosts cause this transformation. This essay argues that Scrooge creates the transformation himself through a dream and through rediscovering the goodness which is buried and dormant within him.
Scrooge is hard man who is known for being wretched, stingy, and mean spirited. In the novel, there are four ghosts that visit Scrooge. The first ghost, who foretells the arrival of the three ghosts of Christmas, is his old business partner Marley. Marley prophesies to Scrooge that the ghosts will come on three different nights all on the stroke of one (Dickens, p.1387). This is not the case though. The story starts on Christmas Eve and ends on Christmas morning. This reinforces the idea that the ghosts did not actually visit Scrooge but it all came within a night’s sleep since the transformation occurred within one night.
Scrooge himself is skeptical that ghosts would actually be visiting him. Scrooge describes why he doesn’t trust his senses saying, “Because, a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheat. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!” (Dickens, p.1385). Scrooge believes that he has eaten something which has upset his stomach and his sensibility and that is the reason why he is perceives the ghost. Scrooge is very much a realist, working in daily reality of commerce and business, and this text shows that he will not easily believe in the ghosts.
Various events occur before the appearance of the ghosts that could have indeed affected Scrooge’s senses and his sensibility. Food, although an option, seems like less of an option than the events that had happened that day. These events are what lead readers to believe that Scrooge created the ghosts himself and made the change internally. The first event is that Christmas Eve is the death of his partner Marley. Scrooge gets mistaken to be his business partner earlier that day by two men who have come in to collect charity. Scrooge tells these two men, “Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years. He died seven years ago, this very night” (Dickens, p.1380). A second event revolves around the two men who asked Scrooge for money to give to the poor. These men come in expecting Scrooge to be receptive to a donation and he not only turns them away but turns them away rudely. He speaks of the poor with a very cruel attitude saying, “If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population” (Dickens, p.1380). This remark later comes back to haunt Scrooge when he is visited by the ghost of Christmas Present. As Scrooge, later in the story, questions if Tiny Tim will die in the near future, the Spirit sarcastically uses Scrooge’s own remark in which the only response Scrooge has is to hang his own head in grief (Dickens, p.1406). Scrooge’s response shows that even though he said such cruel things with no reserve earlier that the mean things he says do not ring true to his inner self and his conscious.
The predominant source for Scrooge’s transformation being internal is his history of repressing aspects of his past—a past which is quite different from his present self. This is evident in the memories that are resurrected by the ghost of Christmas Past. The ghost takes Scrooge back to a certain past Christmas when his sister comes to get him at school. The scene unravels that Scrooge’s father was an abusive father and Scrooge suffered much from it. His sister seems so overjoyed to see her brother and to relish in the opportunity to bring him home. The two are portrayed to have a wonderful sibling relationship. As the scene begins to fade away the Spirit and Scrooge have an revealing and haunting conversation. The spirit says, “She died a woman and had, as I think, children”. Scrooge answers, “One child.” The spirit then goes on to say, “True. Your nephew”! Scrooge seems very uneasy by this remark and briefly agrees with the spirit’s comment and remains in a daze (Dickens, p.1393). Scrooge had earlier that day refused yet again to go to his Nephew’s house for Christmas. This refusal could indeed stem from the repressed sadness that Scrooge has toward his sister’s death. The ghost itself is also a representation of Scrooge attempting to repress the past. This ghost exemplified many dualities such as old and young, summer and winter, but the ghost also was also described as just having a bunch of light coming through its different appendages (Dickens, p.1390). This is representative of Scrooge’s past which he has been trying to shut out for many years. Parts of it are becoming splotchy and hard to remember but other parts are still there affecting him whether he knows it or not.
Throughout the course of his day Scrooge encountered many different triggers which would have set off this dream. More so, the emotions and memories which had been being repressed can only be repressed for so long. Both of these causes should lead the reader of Dickens, A Christmas Carol, to believe that the change within Scrooge occurred internally. The change was drastic. Scrooge went from taking from society to being one of the biggest givers in society. He exemplified the true spirit of Christmas all year long, a radical transformation that occurred internally.