The Theme of Transformation in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

by Natsuki Sakakibara

003_plateThe famous Christmas novel, A Christmas Carol, was written by Charles Dickens in 1843. This novel has been loved by many people all over the world and they have admired Dickens as one of the greatest English novelist. He wrote many novels which describe the differences between the rich and the poor. The reason why he wrote on these themes is that he experienced poverty, even though his family was middle class. Therefore, he had to work when he was only 12 years old to reimburse borrowed money as substitution of his father who was in prison. From his painful experiences, he contributed a lot of things to the poor and social, for example, money and education because he wanted to eliminate poverty, differences and discrimination. A Christmas Carol is the story of how a man changes himself when something strange happens and he comes to understand the importance of human relationships and kindness.

The novel takes place in London, in the Victorian era. The main character of the novel is Ebenezer Scrooge, an old man whose character is very cold. Therefore, he hates having relationships with other people and helping poor people. Other characters include his subordinate, Bob Cratchit whose family is very big but very poor, Tiny Tim who is Bob’s little son and a disabled person. In addition, there are three spirits, the ghost of Christmas past, present, yet to come, the ghost of Jacob Marley who worked with Scrooge before he died, and his nephew, who is a kind man and likes Scrooge. Suddenly, on Christmas Eve, three spirits appear in front of Scrooge to tell him how bad his way of life is and to change his mind and his life. During this strange event, he learns a lot of important things, such as, the importance of family and social justice, to be kind to other people and to help poor people. Finally, he can change himself and his way of thinking, and he can have a wonderful time with those around him on Christmas.

One of the main themes in A Christmas Carol is transformation. Scrooge is a very cold man, hates Christmas and doesn’t have relationships with other people. For example, he always thinks only about money. He says “I don’t have a merry Christmas myself, and I won’t pay for other people to be merry” (7). As he says, he doesn’t want to use money even if it helps poor people. Another example is his attitude towards his nephew. His nephew likes Scrooge, and invites Scrooge to his Christmas party every year, but Scrooge refuses to go because he hates Christmas. However, Scrooge changes his mind because of the three spirits. Thanks to the first and second spirits, he can watch his past and present, and he learns a lot of things, such as, being kind to other people, being generous to poor people, and that having good relationships is necessary. He says to the ghost of the future “If you have anything to teach me tonight, let me learn from you “ (27). He becomes outgoing and he is eager to change his future and life. In addition to this, when Scrooge goes to his nephew’s house, led by the second spirit, he joins the games and wants to be with his nephew more. He changes his mind completely. Finally, at the end of the novel, he spends Christmas very happily. “His own heart laughed inside him, and that was good enough for him” (56).

I like this novel because I could rethink how important human relationships are. No one can live alone so helping each other is very necessary. Therefore, the rich have to help the poor to live happily, healthy and help them to get an education. As a result, everyone could live in an equal social. To realize this, people have to change their minds. Without change, discrimination and the difference between the rich and the poor will continue to exist. I think Charles Dickens wanted to tell readers these things because he suffered from them and became aware of the poverty around him. I was very glad for Scrooge to change his life, be a kind man, get along with other people and celebrate Christmas. Everyone can change themselves and should change to solve social problems. I think these are messages from this novel. I’m thankful for this novel because I could notice such very basic things that we don’t normally care about. I really envy Scrooge because he could discover or learn what he should do to improve because of the three spirits and get a chance to see his past and understand it more. To our regret, we can’t go back to our past and get a chance to see our future. Of course, we can’t meet spirits. Therefore, we should live our lives carefully and importantly while having good relationships with everyone, including the poor

Natsuki Sakakibara is a first-year student in the Dept. of British and American Cultural Studies.