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Published: 21-11-2019

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Morality in A Christmas Carol

“These are but the spirit of things that have been.” The metaphorical words of the Ghost of Christmas Past are typical of Dickens’ melodramatic writing style. Set in Victorian England, a time rife with greed and social stratification, Charles Dickens’ novella ‘A Christmas Carol’ unveils his view on the values of the time period not solely through metaphor. It is also through the use of verisimilitude, repetition of suggestions and symbolism that he delivers his social commentary on the ramifications of the moral vacuousness of upper-class England. In addition, as the intricacies of the plot unfold, dramatic irony is conveyed by way of foreshadowing. Certainly, it is via the language techniques that Dickens is capable to craft his allegory about the energy dichotomy amongst the rich and the poor in Victorian England.

Verisimilitude in metaphor is instrumental to the didactic nature of Dickens’ novella, warning against ever-injurious self-interest. A personification of generosity, with “its genial face […] its open hand”, the Ghost of Christmas Present teaches the reader of the dire consequences of not becoming in its likeness in contemplating other people, particularly those in disadvantageous positions, by way of Ignorance and Want. Via the animalistic however verisimilitudinous imagery of how “yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish” the children are, the reader is indeed warned of what will turn out to be of the ‘surplus population’ if they are not given the aid of which they are in need to have. In portraying Ebenezer Scrooge, the extremely embodiment of the self-interested middle class man as a “covetous old sinner” who “no warmth could warm”, Dickens insinuates that these who engage in self-interest are just as repugnant as Scrooge himself. As “solitary as an oyster” as he is, it is by means of Scrooge that the reader is enlightened to the consequences of pursuing hedonistic desires in lieu of meaningful relationships with other human beings.

Not only does verisimilitude and metaphor help in depicting the message of the novella it is via the repetition of tips and symbolism that Dickens writes of the value of the multi-faceted nature of generosity, or lack thereof. Jacob Marley, symbolising the fate of hedonistic rich guys who do not seek to mend their approaches, laments the parsimonious way by which he led his life in proclaiming that “mankind was [his] business” the sarcastic repetition of the word “business” to describe concerns such as “charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence” and concluding that his function was “but a drop of water in the complete sea of [his] business” outlines the ridiculousness of forsaking goodwill for monetary obtain. Starkly contrasting what Jacob Marley and Ebenezer Scrooge stand for, the Cratchit loved ones, even with out anything of substantial monetary worth, ironically embody the warmth and generosity which is lacking in a lot of of these placed greater in the Victorian social hierarchy. Verily, being as “happy [and] grateful” as they are in spite of their disadvantageous position, the Cratchit family members are symbolic not only of abject poverty but of kindness. As a result, they juxtapose Scrooge who is “hard and sharp as a flint” in every possible way. By presenting the quite antitheses of Scrooge—a symbol for the tight-fisted nature of middle class society—in such a good light, the reader is informed of what they cannot possibly become if they adopt the identical “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching” values as Scrooge.

The use of dramatic irony and foreshadowing additionally adds to the allegorical nature of Dickens’ tale. In establishing that there was “no doubt that Marley was dead” which was a truth that must be “distinctly understood” punctuates Jacob Marley’s role in the story as that which is considerable to the amelioration of Scrooge’s miserly nature. Marley does certainly proceed to play the function as one of the many catalysts enabling Scrooge’s drastic metamorphosis into somebody who is warm and is not only enraptured by function. Dramatic irony and foreshadowing kind the foundation of the message imparted upon the reader by the Ghost of Christmas However to Come. Every vision presented to Scrooge by the Ghost culminates to him seeing “upon the stone of the neglected grave his personal name” although the reader is completely aware of Scrooge’s fate extended ahead of Scrooge is confronted by his personal headstone. Symbolic of the march of time towards an undeniably fixed end, the Ghost not only instils worry, but serves as a warning to those who lack philanthropy. In presenting Scrooge with harrowing predictions of the future such as him in a “dark empty home, with not a man, woman or a child” to mourn his passing, Scrooge finally realises that “men’s courses will foreshadow particular ends”, warning readers of what will turn out to be of them if they stay morally vacuous.

Indeed, it is clear that language conventions are imperative catalysts to the moralistic nature of Charles Dickens’ novella ‘A Christmas Carol’. Charles Dickens seeks to confront a 19th century readership with what could become of society that may possibly be incurred if society remains spiritually devoid and does not seek to ameliorate their circumstance by upholding tradition. In the words of Jacob Marley, “charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, [are], all, [our] enterprise.”
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