Dickens presents each one of the four ghosts in completely different ways as they contrast one another throughout the novel. He uses the views and reactions of the character Scrooge and the physical descriptions of the ghosts to portray their moral significance.
The novel is split into five staves (or chapters) with the three ghosts of days gone by, present and future visiting Scrooge in the middle three chapters and the readers first meet Scrooge when he is introduced by Marley's ghost in the first chapter who was Scrooge's former business partner, yet, in Stave 5 we see how Scrooge has changed, contrasting to the first chapter when he is a mean, stingy old man. Dickens called the chapters 'staves' which can be references to verses of an song, which he has cleverly linked in with the title of the novel 'A Christmas Carol', so each chapter is similar to a verse in a carol and this structure of the novel is effective since it emphasizes the storyline and gets across the spirit of Christmas in a subtle and various way.
The first ghost to appear in front of Scrooge is the ghost of Jacob Marley - Scrooge's former business partner. "The chain he drew was clasped around his middle. " Dickens presents Marley with an extended chain wrapped around him manufactured from "cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds and heavy purses" showing that he is trapped by his regrets manufactured in life and he isn't free of his sins. The money boxes on Marley's chain represent his character showing that whenever he was alive he relied on money and it was the thing Marley thought about. Dickens presents businessmen as selfish and heartless people saying there are "keys" and "padlocks" on Marley's chain which might claim that they keep everything locked included, including feelings and their money. Dickens stereotypes this society as self-contained, ignorant people who turn a blind eye to the indegent and the lower-class households in the Victorian times. Dickens also describes the chain "such as a tail" wound around Marley and by by using a simile he helps the reader to visualise the imagery given describing Marley's ghost, as though Marley cannot escape his regrets. Dickens uses the term tail, that could be suggesting that the chain becomes part of Marley's anatomy and so he has to live with it his expereince of living.
There is a style of regret throughout the novel and I think that Dickens could be personifying Marley's regrets because they are the things that are forcing him to stay on the planet as a spirit. Marley visits Scrooge to warn him about the regrets and mistakes he made in his own life which is therefore telling Scrooge to change his ways before it is too late. Marley tells Scrooge that being a spirit can be an "incessant torture of remorse" which shows the reader that Marley wishes he might have lived a more fulfilling life as he finds his time as a spirit tormenting and unhappy. Due to Marley's never-ending torture it could also suggest that because of his actions Marley has gone to hell to repay his sins. Charles Dickens is giving a moral message to the readers and to society, telling them to think about their own regrets manufactured in life and how their actions have damaged others and to possibly change their life-style like Scrooge. Marley tells Scrooge that his own chain was as long as his seven years ago and Scrooge has "laboured onto it since. " Marley then tells Scrooge that he has "hope of escaping my fate, " when three Spirits will visit him over another three nights and recover Marley is gone. Dickens is wanting to portray the message that you should think about the actions in your daily life and treat everyone with respect because otherwise your regrets manufactured in life could meet up with you like Marley.
Another theme in the novel is the theme of redemption, as Scrooge is told by the ghosts they can still change the individual he might become. When Dickens wrote the novel there was a big divide between the rich and poor societies and he wanted to change that, by selling A Christmas Carol for 5 shillings each which meant that everyone could browse the book no matter how much cash they earned. Also Dickens was trying to get the message across to the ignorant rich of Victorian times about how exactly the indegent lived in poverty like Tiny Tim and his family in the novel. Because of this moral message Dickens portrayed, he hoped that it would encourage more people to provide money to the poor, possibly to redeem their sins made in life. Furthermore the character of Scrooge would have related to numerous upper-class, selfish business men who felt regret about their mistakes and wished to become better people much like Scrooge, as in the beginning of the story Scrooge is shown as a cold, bitter man but by the finish of the novel he's a changed man. This moral message about redemption continues to be an essential issue today and I think that is why the book continues to be as popular as it was 100 years ago.
The to begin the three spirits to appear in front of Scrooge is the ghost of Christmas Past, who Dickens describes as "strange" and "like a child" making the ghost appear as though it were young and childlike however Dickens then contradicts himself saying that the spirit's hair was "white, as though with age" giving the readers the impression that even though the spirit might be old, the childhood memories are still with him and due to this you feel as a reader that while you are more mature, your past stays to you as you get old, helping to shape the person you become. The ghost is showing Scrooge that for him to have the ability to change his ways, he must look into his past and study from the mistakes he has made but also from the happy experience he has familiar with Marley. Because of this, the spirit can be seen as a personification of any memory as everyone must look into their past and learn from it to be a much better person. Also the spirit could be observed as an angel as Dickens describes the spirit with "a bright clear jet of light" via his head which could be perceived as a halo like an angel and since it is shining very brightly from the spirit's crown it might represent it's mind and the strength of his thoughts and memories.
The second ghost that visits Scrooge is the ghost of Christmas present. Dickens presents this ghost as a happy, kind spirit which is very much indeed the opposite of Scrooge who's a miserable and selfish man. The spirit is seen as a kind-hearted and welcoming person saying "come in!" to Scrooge and he wears "a green robe" that could symbolise Christmas as this a typical festive colour but and yes it could represent nature and the pureness from it. To get started with Scrooge is very weary of the spirit, as "he lay after his bed, " but eventually he goes to go to the Spirit. This may be because Scrooge is scared about what is to come but and yes it could imply he's finding it hard to change his ways. He finds that the area has had a "surprising transformation, " with holly, mistletoe and ivy scattered around, "poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, " and "bright gleaming berries. " These are all typical Christmas objects, which could be portraying the happiness of Christmas spirit and the warmth and kindness that comes with Christmas.
At this aspect in the novel, both most significant symbols of the storyline are introduced to Scrooge to make him want to improve his ways. He asks "is it a foot or a claw, " as he's wonders the actual sprit is hiding under his robes. The spirit shows Scrooge two "ragged, scowling, wolfish, " children which symbolise Ignorance and Want. Ignorance shows Scrooge's ignorance towards the poor and also to others around him and the ghost warns him that if he doesn't change, he will conclude like Marley. In addition, it shows the way the rich ignore the suffering of the indegent like Scrooge at the start of the novel. The child of Want shows Scrooge's greed of money throughout the novel however it may possibly also represent the want of the indegent society, as they are in need of an improved life, food, and education plus they want to have. Want and Ignorance have been personified into children to help make the reader think about what society is becoming and also that maybe it's society's fault they are here.
This part of the book is showing how Charles Dickens wished to change the lives of several and help the less fortunate, as with Victorian Society the life of the poor was very hard. The streets were dirty and filled up with disease and death and children as young as five were delivered to the workhouses, where they often worked long hours in dangerous jobs for an extremely little wage. Houses were overcrowded with many families living in one house and there were many deaths caused by starvation and disease. Dickens created these characters of Ignorance and Want showing the readers what Victorian Society was like and they shouldn't ignore it but help to increase the lives of others.
When the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come "silently approached" Scrooge, he's "draped and hooded, " a phantom-like figure who could represent the fear of death. The ghost never talks to Scrooge, he just leads Scrooge, pointing forward so Scrooge can consider what he did and what will come if he doesn't change. The silence of the spirit could be frightening to Scrooge, as this spirit is traditionally shown as the scariest ghost. The spirit wears a "deep, black garment" and could remind readers of the Grim Reaper, which is often portrayed as an old man or a skeleton. Scrooge is reminded of Marley's fate by this spirit and what is going to happen to him, unless he changes his ways, which he promises to do after he is haunted by the image of his own death. If the characters are in the graveyard, Dickens uses pathetic fallacy to portray the sensation of death throughout the spirit, describing the graveyard "overrun by grass and weeds" and "choked up with too much burying, " giving the reader a graphic of scene but also a feeling of the atmosphere around them. The spirit could also be showing Scrooge the difference of heaven and hell, as Tiny Tim would go to heaven as he's a sort, generous boy whereas Scrooge would go to hell for being a greedy, cold-hearted man.
In conclusion Dickens presents the four ghosts in very different ways; each one is showed by its character, appearance and feelings. The spirits each have their own moral significance, giving not just a message to Scrooge, but a moral to the readers too. Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in the 19th century of Victorian Britain and he wished to show the rich and ignorant that they have to help the suffering and the indegent, not merely ignore them, like Scrooge's character throughout the novel. The spirits helped him to note that he should change, by simply showing him past memories, present times and what would eventually him in the future if it didn't change his ways. This novel is still extremely popular today, due to ghosts' moral messages which are still so relevant today and in society.
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