When the Ghosts appear, Dickens idea is to create an atmosphere full of tension, and with these words, he does just that. ‘I am prepared to bear your company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me? ‘ It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed straight before them. Dickens has portrayed the last spirit as inhuman, a frightening figure which cannot speak, and he do this using descriptive language. He also uses many devices such as repetition, alliteration and onomatopoeia. He repeats the word, ‘chuckle’ and he uses the words ‘secrets and self-contained and solitary’ for alliteration.
Dickens uses language in many ways. One way he uses it is to distinguish the poor people of society from the rich. There are a good deal more words describing the poor in informal language than there are to describe the rich, for example, after Scrooge’s transformation (stave five) he speaks to a small boy. Scrooge speaks formally to him, yet he replies with a simple ‘eh? ‘ This shows Dickens, who has been in a situation of being poor, understands what it feels like to be talked to by the rich and educated and how the poor people communicate. He is encouraging the educated readers to identify the problems of speech.
Dickens undoubtedly was able to show humour through his writing in his novels, even if they were discussing depressing issues. ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a very light hearted novella as it is based on a festive time of year. Dickens intended to add plenty of humour. The novella and how it is presented, is based upon a Christmas song. It has staves which would act as verses and Christmas songs are meant to feel ‘jolly’. He uses slang words to make the story more light- hearted. ‘What’s to-day? ‘ cried Scrooge calling downward to a boy a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered to look about him.
‘Eh? ‘ returned the boy. This use of slang makes the story less daunting to read. Dickens also uses alliteration in his story and onomatopoeic words to reduce the seriousness, for example, ‘wintry weather’. One of the most recognisable uses of onomatopoeia would be ‘Scrooge’. The name already sounds cold and miserable and uninviting. Towards the end of the novella, a good deal more literary devices are used to lighten the story. Repetition of the word ‘Wonderful’ and ‘chuckle’ are used and listings of descriptive and informal words are placed to make this novella both serious and humorous.
Other characters in ‘A Christmas Carol’ are described in complete contrast to Scrooge. Scrooge is an icy cold character whereas his nephew, Fred is depicted using warm words and feelings. Fezziwig, Scrooge’s first employer comes across to us as funny and enjoys having a good time. He doesn’t care about his money, unlike Scrooge, who accounts every single penny he owns. Then there is Bob Cratchit, a kind, caring, sensitive individual who cares deeply about the welfare of his family. Once again, we are shown the differences in the characters, between Scrooge and Bob. Scrooge doesn’t care for friendship, family or any other person.
Scrooge is a complete contrast at the beginning of the story to any other character, apart from Marley. The comparison between Scrooge and the other, kinder characters is outlined through Dickens’s language and the way he makes characters react in different situations. As an illustration, Scrooge has the choice of going to a party, his nephew’s party, at the beginning of the novella. Scrooge refuses. Nephew Fred wants to have some fun, and when he gets the opportunity he takes it. Scrooge would not do this but at the end of the story when he is given an invitation he accepts.
‘It is I, your Uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner, will you let me in? ‘ This amazes Fred, but he lets him in and they enjoy themselves. Scrooge has not experienced fun before. ‘A Christmas Carol’ is structured so that Dickens may convey his message in many sections of the story. Events happen one after another. Marley visits Scrooge, then the three ghosts visit Scrooge and finally we see the changed Scrooge. The story is in five staves, this is can compare to ‘A Christmas Song’. Each stave would represent a verse. Stave one is where Scrooge is portrayed as a cold, mean man.
Stave two is where the ‘Ghost of Christmas Past’ visited and showed Scrooge what he missed out on in his past. Stave three represents where the’ Ghost of Christmas Present’ takes Scrooge to various celebrations and shows Scrooge everything he is missing now. This is the point where Scrooge starts to consider a change in him. In stave four the ‘Ghost of Christmas yet to Come’ shows Scrooge a celebration of his death and his own gravestone. By this time Scrooge’s mind is made up, he decides to change for good. Stave five then shows us the difference in him and what lessons he has learnt about himself.
The story is written so the reader obtains a very gradual understanding of the plot and accepting the moral of the story is easy. This is because the moral is portrayed through many characters and not to accept it would make the reader as cruel as the original Scrooge. Scrooge, Bob, Marley, Tiny Tim all contribute to the final moral of the tale, they all have their hidden message. For instance, Bob Cratchit is a kind, loving man and ultimately he is given what he needs from Scrooge, help for his son. The message here is, work hard, have faith in your fellow man and you will be rewarded.
The episodic nature makes this descriptive novel easy to understand. In some novels heavy description can hinder comprehension, but not in Dickens case. ‘A Christmas Carol’ is an allegory. This means that the story conveys hidden meaning or a moral to the story. The moral in the story is that if we are mean, and greedy in this life, we will be punished in the next. Marley tells us this. He is in chains; he is suffering for his past demeanours in his living life. All of the characters have a hidden meaning to them, Fred represents kindness and fun, Tiny Tim depicts suffering, representing the poor and needy.
The voice of Charles Dickens can be heard in the story as it is written in the third person. He is speaking directly to us as the narrator of the story. Dickens gives us information about the characters that can’t be spoken by the characters themselves. He ‘ties up lose ends’. ‘The mention of Marley’s funeral brings me back to the point I started from. There is no doubt that Marley was dead. ‘ From this quote we can see that Charles Dickens was talking directly to the audience of his novel and this makes the reader feel more involved in the story, encouraging further reading and understanding and wanting to know the conclusion of the story.
The purpose of this novella is to raise awareness of the poor and the way they live and their treatment at the hands of the rich and uncaring. He adds the moral to push his message across to the masses. The story is very successful. It was written a long time ago, but people are still reading and accepting the moral message of this novella. If the story doesn’t make the reader act, at least it makes them think. It gathers sympathy for Tiny Tim and hate for Scrooge. It makes the reader emotional- sad, angry, finally happy.
So many people must have read this book that Scrooge has become a household name, symbolic of greed and loathing. Scrooge’s phrase, ‘Bah Humbug” depicts a person who will not participate in celebrations and fun activities. If Charles Dickens was alive today I think he would be pleased that his message is still being read and received. ‘Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim who did NOT die, he was a second father. ‘ ‘God bless us, everyone’.