Dicken’s Childhood Experiences Inspiring A Christmas Carol

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1183

Christmas comes with the spirit of giving, and by giving, people become happy because they see the joy in people. Ideally, Christmas is seen as a time for forgetting oneself and giving time to others who might be less fortunate. This Christmas spirit is shown in A Christmas Carol. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens details the story of Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge is an old miser who is experiences four ghostly visits on a Christmas Eve. These visits end up transforming his attitude towards Christmas and the people around him. The four ghostly visits include one by a ghost of Jacom Marley, his former business partner, and Ghosts of Christmas in his past, present, and future (Bos). The transformation delivers a kinder and gentler Scrooge and he spends his Christmas day with Fred’s family and sends Crachit goodies and increases his pay the following day while at the same time taking care of Tiny Tim. Like most works, A Christmas Carol was inspired by experiences the author had in his early years. Having been brought up in a family that faced financial difficulties, he grew up trying to fend for himself and his family. Charles Dickens used the experiences of his young life to create the story A Christmas Carol, hoping to show the plight of the poor.

Dickens describes Scrooge as a “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner” and “hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire” (Dickens). This description fits a description of an individual who subscribed to utilitarianism, a philosophy that, in one way or another, drove the economy in the wake of industrialization during Dicken’s earlier years. Individuals like Scrooge that ran businesses and employed him when he left school to work. According to Sutherland, this time was referred to as the ‘hungry forties’ since the 1840s saw widespread distress in workplaces and among people in working classes coupled with mass starvation (Broich). This evidences the economic and social environment in which Dickens grew and the effects it had on the poor, including his family. It is this environment that pushed Dickens in his younger years to leave school to work in order to feed his family and meet his needs. With the experiences, he had as a worker, and in the utilitarian environment in the then England, Dickens was able to meet first hand the challenges the poor faced and the problems that pushed them to workplaces, working for people who, in most ways, resembled Scrooge and his capitalist spirit. In an attempt to show the plight of the poor, he uses his experience with business owners like Scrooge to depict what the poor working for them had to deal with. 

Dickens also seeks to portray Scrooge in the same light when interacting with individuals of his family. When his nephew seeks to wish him a Merry Christmas, Scrooge confronts him and trashes the meaning they attach to Christmas. He says “Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough” (Dickens) referring to the financial status of his nephews family and how pointless it is for them to waste money they do not have on Christmass. This sheds light on how Dickens may have been treated by some of his family members who were maybe better endowed financially than his family. In “Charles John Huffam Dickens,” Dicken’s family financial status is revealed. Dickens’ father belonged to the lower-middle-class and did little to offset the family’s financial difficulties. These financial problems led them to move and settle to a poor neighborhood in London. The difficulties also caused Dickens to drop out of school and work at a warehouse that dealt in shoe polish. Depicting Scoorage’s character when he interacts with his nephew whom he calls his family poor, Dickens tries to mirror his experiences and the financial difficulties his family experienced and the possibility that none of his family members that were probably more endowed financially did anything to help his family’s situation. With this experience, Dickens sheds light on the problems the poor go through and how family members do little to help those of them that are suffering. 

The ghost of Christmas Present, other than showing Scrooge people preparing to make merry, it shows him Cratchit’s family feast where he is introduced to his son who is seriously ill (Dickens). In addition, a sick Tiny Tim is used to show how helpless the families of the poor were. Sutherland asserts that Children during the Dicken’s time were hired into the labor force as cheap labor, but since their fingers were small, they would be crippled like Tiny Tim. This goes to show the manner in which children were treated by the British social policy and how helpless their parents were about the situation. Having worked in his younger years, Dickens utilized his experiences to paint the picture of the problems poor families face along with their children. 

The ghost also shows Scoorge Ignorance and Want in their emaciated and hideous statuses (Dickens). Ignorance and Want are depicted as children and are a picture of what children would look like if they are neglected or are living in a poor household. By portraying Ignorance and Want as emaciated and ugly, Dickens paints the picture of the children of the from poor households in London when he was young. Children during Dickens’ time worked in the factories in Manchester like slaves (Sutherland). Granted that both children and parents worked in the factories to meet family needs, the children would often go unchecked and ignored making them emaciated and hideous from the neglect. In addition, although their parents would note their statuses, they would do very little to salvage the situation. Dickens witnessed these developments for children and wrote the story to pass paint the picture of the struggles the poor went through. 

In summary, Dickens’ experiences in his youth played a significant role in shaping the direction of A Christmas Carol. He uses Scoorge to portray the typical business person of the time and use Scoorge to show what the less fortunate in as far as money was concerned had to deal with. In addition, he comes up with Tiny Tim as a representation of the suffering children of the poor working in factories underwent and their eventual end as emaciated and hideous individuals if left unwatched. Lastly, having faced the struggles of a financially challenged background, Dickens’ representation of the plight of the poor is believable and is applicable in most societies today. 

The annotations are presented alphabetically in line with MLA formatting rules. The arrangement does not consider any thematic or conceptual importance of the sources. This is because the different sources revolve around the same theme and serve the same purpose to provide more information about the author and his experiences in his younger years. Other than the resourced from which the story is sourced, all the sources offer an all round review of the author’s life, the specific period and how it relates to the story. 

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  1. “Charles John Huffam Dickens.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Dec. 2017 
  2. Bos, Carole “BACKGROUND of EBENEZER SCROOGE” AwesomeStories.com. Dec 23, 2013. Dec 26, 2017.  
  3. Broich, John. “The Real Reason Charles Dickens Wrote A Christmas Carol.” Time.com. 2016. 25 Dec. 2017 
  4. Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. Irvine: Saddleback Educational Pub, 2005. Dec. 25. 2017. 
  5. Sutherland, John. “The origins of A Christmas Carol.” Bl.uk. 2014. 
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