A Christmas Carol Context

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  • A Christmas Carol Context
    • Charles Dickens
      • Grew up in poverty
        • Made his view of the poor different to other successful people
          • Wanted to influence others with his writing about the poor's needs
        • Worked in a factory at 12
      • Wrote the novella to explore the problem of poverty and criticize the rich
        • Rich were dismissing/ ignoring the problem
        • If the poor were paid fairly there would be less need for charity laws
        • Many of society's problems were caused by lack of education
          • Shown by the child Ignorance in STAVE 3 - showed how lack of education doomed the poor to a life of poverty
      • Dickens' ideas of Christianity compared to society's view
        • Society's view
          • A good Christian attended church, avoided alcohol and sex ect. (moral code)
        • Dickens' view
          • A good Christian was a good PERSON - charitable, humble, forgiving - not necessarily religious
    • Written in 1843
      • Industrial revolution
        • Many moved from rural areas to cities
          • Led to overpopulation
            • Poverty
              • Many lived in  packed slums, no healthcare, no hygiene, disease, hunger crime, exploitation etc
        • Lots of new machines built
          • People lost their jobs
            • Poverty
              • Many lived in  packed slums, no healthcare, no hygiene, disease, hunger crime, exploitation etc
    • Message is that the behavior of the rich needs to change - social reform
      • Social responsibility!
        • People have a duty to help the less fortunate
    • Set at Christmas
      • Dickens believed it is a time where everyone is treated with kindness and everyone is equal
    • Contrast between characters shows how bad the poverty was
      • Scrooge is very rich
        • Could easily help lots of poor people but chooses not to out of spite and greed
      • Bob Cratchit is very poor
        • Can hardly provide for his family and ill son
    • Thomas Malthus 1798
      • Said that the human population would always be higher than food supplies leading to famine
        • So people should have smaller families to stop overpopulation
          • Scrooge says something similar to this theory in the novella in Stave 1
            • "If they'd rather die... they'd better do it and decrease the surplus population"
      • Dickens disagreed with the theory as he thought there was enough food to go around if the rich would share it with the poor
        • In Stave 3 the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge all the food on display in shops - the poor couldn't afford it but it was enough to feed them
    • 1834 Poor Law
      • Introduced to reduce financial help available to the poor
      • Unemployed people must go to workhouses for food and shelter
        • Terrible places, used to discourage the poor from seeking help
      • People thought previous Poor Laws helped the poor TOO much - made them lazy
    • Proof in novel of Victorian views/ Dickens' towards the poor
      • STAVE 1
        • Scrooge says he can't afford to make "idle people merry" - he support workhouses + prisons
        • Dickens uses the phrase "once upon a time" to describe Scrooge's father being kinder when he was younger - shows that people can change from good - bad / bad - good
      • STAVE 2
      • STAVE 3
      • STAVE 4
      • STAVE 5
        • Scrooge says "I will try to honour Christmas in my heat, and try to keep it all year" - shows Dickens' belief that Christmas isn't the only day to treat others well
    • Industrial revolution
      • created a society where there was a huge gap between the rich and the poor
      • Most people were only concerned with having money - enough to support themselves, or just because they wanted more
        • Not many cared for others like Bob Cratchit
          • Can be seen when Scrooge only cares about money and when the poor steal the clothes off of Scrooge's dead body in desperation

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