Charity in A Christmas Carol

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Homework 27/4/13
How does Dickens present different attitudes towards charity in `A
Christmas Carol'?
One of Dickens' key messages in the novella `A Christmas Carol' is the
importance of charity. During the 19th Century, when the book was written and
set, there was a large divide between the rich and the poor, which led to many
employers and higher classes believing that people were only poor because they
were `idle'. Dickens shows us throughout the novella that an act of charity is one
of the best ways to live a Christian life by showing us the benefits of philanthropy.
The first act of charity in the novella is seen in the form of the two portly
gentlemen. Dickens uses these characters to represent those at the time who felt
it was right to `provide some slight provision for the poor' during the festive
season. They are obviously very open to giving money to help those less
fortunate and through them, Dickens is showing that not all richer people were
ignorant to the poor. He also uses them to reflect his own personal opinion about
charity as they represent the Christian value of helping those in need.
Dickens' uses Scrooge's dialogue with these two gentlemen to show an
opposing opinion towards charity. When asked to make a donation to help the
poor, Scrooge replies with `It's not my business.' This illustrates many of the
upper classes attitudes to the poor as they felt that they couldn't `afford to make
idle people merry.' Dickens also uses this meeting to develop Scrooge's
character as his lack of interest or care for the poor shows the indifference he
has for other people and tells us that he doesn't have an interest if the subject is
irrelevant to him or doesn't benefit him personally.
The character of Jacob Marley shows us the consequences of not acting in a
charitable manner in our mortal lives. He tells Scrooge that his interests should
focus on suffering humans instead of business. Scrooge remarks that Marley
was always `a good man of business' but Marley tells him that `mankind was my
[Marley's] business.' This reflects Dickens' attitude to charity as he is telling the
reader that their fellow neighbours are more important than financial gain. The
`phantoms' that wander the air when Marley departs `sought to interfere, for
good, in human matters' but they had `lost their power for good' because they
had not acted kindly in their mortal life.
We see a change in Scrooge's attitude to charity when the Ghost of Christmas
Past takes Scrooge to see his younger self at his old school. Scrooge makes
the connection between the `solitary child' and the `boy singing a Christmas
carol' earlier in the story. Scrooge remarks that he `should like to have given him
something.' Dickens uses this link to remind the reader that there will be times in
our lives when we have required assistance and so we should be willing to help
those in a similar situation. This also tells us that Dickens believes that it is never
too late to change your mind and become a charitable person.
Katie Marrin

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The character of Mr Fezziwig is used by Dickens to show that you don't need a
lot of money to be charitable. The fact that he had `spent but a few pounds' on the
Christmas party tells the reader that charity can come in the form of other things
beside money. Scrooge tells us that `the happiness he [Fezziwig] gives is quite
as great as if it cost a fortune,' telling us that Fezziwig's charitable acts came in
the form of granting happiness to others.…read more

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