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ENGLISH
Asked by Saim

How does dickens present the influence of fear in a ACC?

Charles Dickens’ captivating novella, ‘A Christmas Carol’ follows the exploits of protagonist Ebenezer Scrooge, set against the shocking backdrop of nineteenth century London. Throughout this ‘ghostly tale’, Scrooge must undergo many revelations in an effort to cause a change, as it is fear that encapsulates this man leading to his detriment. It is the fear of being responsible or a dismal future society that encourages this dramatic alteration, however understanding the warmth and kindness of those less fortunate further causes him to adopt more humane attitudes. Scrooge’s gradual willingness to become enlightened by those willing to teach, however, has the most influence on Scrooge, resulting in his dramatic alteration from monster to man. Scrooge’s immense fear of poverty has caused him to develop narcissistic qualities which ultimately lead to his isolation from society. A lengthy repugnant opening description of this ‘covetous old sinner’ whose ‘eyes were shrivelled’ highlights the devastating changes to his physique that has warped along with his personality. Scrooge is contrasted early on to his ‘ruddy, handsome’ nephew Fred, who was ‘all in a glow’ as their views towards Christmas differ greatly, with Scrooge merely dismissing it, ‘Humbug’, where as Fred believes it brings men and women together despite social differences and should be ‘bless[ed] by God’. This initial description of the characters illustrates that Scrooge’s attitudes have little to do with his wealth, rather his distaste of the poor and ‘making idle people merry’ has been due to fear of suffering from poverty himself. Scrooge is not an intrinsically malicious character; rather he is fearful and damaged. Dickens himself had a brush with poverty during his younger years and even throughout his illustrious career, he became anxious about how he would provide for his family. Thus, Dickens provides insight to the reader, that for Scrooge, ‘there is nothing on which is as hard as poverty’. This emphasises the utter trepidation he experienced out of fear of how others would respond if he was to become poor. Consequently, it is this behaviour which causes Scrooge ‘to fear the world too much’ and is a symbol of what could have been. His intolerable habit to ‘weigh everything by gain’ removed any change ‘of a beautiful creature calling him father’ after the ‘golden idol’ displaced his wife Belle. Dickens exemplifies the devastation that wealth can cause and it is this dark emotion of fear causing Scrooge’s abhorrent personality that needed to be altered to achieve social betterment. Furthermore, it is the fear of a dismal future, foreshadowed by Scrooge’s ghostly visitors that force his transformation. The Ghost of Christmas Present begins in an exaggerated, jovial and beneficent manner as he demands Scrooge to ‘touch [his] robe’ and be taken on a journey, however is the lessons he teaches that force Scrooge to ponder his actions. At the Cratchit household Scroge is able to see the unfortunate situation of cripple Tiny Tim and begins to feel remorse and sorrow for this young boy, with the ghost labouring to Scrooge that ‘if the shadows of the future do not change the boy will die’. The ghost further uses Scrooge’s own callous words about ‘decreas[ing] the surplus population’ to condemn him for his selfish actions that are indirectly causing the death of this poor boy and many others just like him. This is the moment of revelation for Scrooge as he realises he must reform. Tiny Tim personalises Scrooge’s unpleasant philosophy to emphasise that the ‘surplus population is comprised of individual faces’, at the same time acting as the catalyst for Scrooge’s fear in the wake of an awful world. Similarly, the ‘meagre’ and ‘ragged’ children Ignorance and Want presented to Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas Present have an allegorical role as they embody the race of disregarded individuals that will evolve into hungry predators if social reform does not take place immediately. Scrooge begins to understand that these children are ‘man’s’ and fears that ‘doom will remain on the brow of this boy’ unless he stands up to cause a change in his life. Dickens underpins the importance of the ‘ghost of an idea’ that should ‘haunt our homes’. He yearns for the world to transform just like Scrooge in fear of a devastating future unless members of society come together to fight for the prosperity of the poor. The Ghost of Christmas Present is pivotal in enabling Scrooge to change through evoking fear that his actions are leading to the detriment of the world. On the other hand, although fear encapsulates Scrooge, it is his newly found understanding of qualities including warmth and benevolence displayed by others that assists his transformation. Despite the ‘uncheery’ climate, the people along the streets of London are able to draw on the love and compassion of others shown at Christmas time and act optimistically in times of struggle. This is Scrooge’s first insight into the lives of others as for so long he has been trapped in his ‘melancholy tavern’. Likewise, it is the great Christmas feast at the Cratchit’s observed by Scrooge that causes Scrooge to rediscover the notion of the importance of togetherness. Despite the scarcity of food, the utter pleasure of the family is cleverly expressed by Dickens with none of them ‘complaining about the size of the pudding’, rather they are all uniting and working together whilst experiencing joy and happiness. Dickens portrays the Cratchit family so angelically to emphasise their unique ability to transcend their struggles in an effort to ‘keep Christmas well’ and as readers we desire to assist this beautiful family. Scrooge also wishes to provide this family with a ‘turkey’, rather than a ‘goose’ and experience love and compassion from others that he had restricted himself from. Scrooge undergoes an epiphany after seeing that people from all walks of life, including ‘in a place where miners live’ and out in the ‘deep black sea’ are coming together as one, thus causing him to fully understand the importance of others in his life and strive for change. Finally, it is Scrooge’s gradual alteration from rejecting change to embracing it that proves vital for his transformation. During the initial stave Scrooge would rather receive ‘all ghosts at once’ and get it over with and his distaste of the Ghost of Christmas Past’s bright light is clearly evident. This ghost is symbolic of memory and specifically Scrooge’s damaged past and he would rather shield himself from these memories than to confront them, highlighted by his attempt to cover the light at the conclusion of his visit. However, as the text draws on Scrooge becomes more eager to view this light and not block out the ‘lessons the [ghosts] teach’. From being completely silent whilst eating his ‘melancholy dinner’ at the beginning to ‘bearing his company with a thankful heart’ despite the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come being Scrooge’s most ‘feared spectre’, Scrooge learns to confront the fears limiting his full capabilities in life. This is captured by Scrooge’s language during the final stave. He is willing to ‘live in the past, present and the future’, acting euphorically with Dickens incorporating simile and metaphor, as Scrooge feels like a ‘school boy and a baby’ all in the same breath. His decision to learn from the ghosts lifted the ignorance from Scrooge symbolised by the change in weather following his transformation as the ‘fog’ lifts and the sun is glowing once more. Scrooge takes great ‘pleasure in talking with a boy’ here, demonstrating how the teachings from one night can cause a ‘covetous old sinner’ to transform into a ‘man as good as any master the town had seen’. Through guidance and acceptance Scrooge is able to confront his worse fears whilst realising the worth and kindness of others. Overall, Scrooge’s transformation transpired as a result of a fear of poverty as he attempted to insulate himself from it, in the process, developing harsh qualities that consumed him, forcing his isolation from the world. Fear, however, remained with Scrooge throughout his transformation with the Ghost of Christmas Present foreshadowing a dismal future as a direct result of his misanthropic actions which needed to be altered. But, it is Scrooge’s eventual understanding of the lives of other individuals coupled with an admirable willingness to be enlightened by change and education that allows him to fully appreciate the warmth and kindness of others, in effect adopting the true meaning of Christmas.

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Mehakdeep Arora
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