Christmas Carol Characters

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Ebenezer Scrooge (1/3)

Scrooge doesn’t seem to care about anything except money:

  • At the start of the novel Scrooge is portrayed very negatively, as someone who only cares about money - he’s described as “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!”
  • He’s so miserly and mean that he begrudges Bob Cratchit his Christmas wages, and won’t allow him a decent fire.
  • In a vision of Scrooge’s past, Belle says that Scrooge sees money as an “Idol”, and that it has “displaced” her in Scrooge’s affections. This suggests that Scrooge worships money as if it’s a god, and his love for it is greater than his love for Belle.

He’s cold-hearted and unfeeling:

  • Scrooge is unsympathetic towards other people, so he has no interest in helping the poor. He refuses to donate to charity - he thinks he’s done enough by paying taxes to support the prisons and workhouses.
  • Dickens describes Scrooge using cold language - there’s a “cold within him” that “froze his old features”. This association with the cold emphasises Scrooge’s cold-hearted nature
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Ebenezer Scrooge (2/3)

We learn that Scrooge’s past has shaped him:

  • The events of his past are partly responsible for Scrooge's present-day personality.
  • Scrooge is shown sympathetically as “a lonely boy” near a “feeble fire” at his old school; he’s been left there because his father won’t let him come home for Christmas.
  • Scrooge is eventually brought home by his sister. It’s possible that he isolated himself from Fred because he’s a sad reminder of the sister Scrooge has lost.
  • Scrooge is distressed at the vision of Belle leaving him, and this painful memory is made worse by the vision of Belle’s happy family. 

Scrooge has to see himself as others see him:

  • Scrooge is forced to see how other people talk about him when he’s not around: Mrs Cratchit calls Scrooge as “odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man”: Fred says he’s “a comical old fellow”, and “not so pleasant as he might be”: A businessman calls Scrooge “Old Scratch” - a nickname for the devil: A couple, who owe Scrooge money, call him “merciless”.
  • At the beginning of the novel, Scrooge is selfish, but the spirits show him the way other people talk about him, which makes him realise his faults and convinces him to change.
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Ebenezer Scrooge (3/3)

Tiny Tim shows Scrooge that the poor are people too:

  • Scrooge asks the spirit if Tim will die, with “an interest he had never felt before” - Tim’s situation makes Scrooge start to care about other people.
  • The ghost of Christmas Present uses Tim to show Scrooge how wrong his beliefs are about “surplus population” are, and to force him to think about poor people as individuals. 
  • Scrooge is “overcome with penitence and grief” when he realises how wrong he’s been. He starts to accept that helping people like Tim is his responsibility.

Scrooge’s value change:

  • Scrooge’s character changes completely be the end of the novel. He laughs at himself and says that he’s “as merry as a school-boy”.
  • He also learns to be charitable. He buys the Cratchits a Christmas turkey and makes a large donation to charity.
  • Scrooge completely changes his mind about Christmas – the narrator says that he “knew how to keep Christmas well”.
  • The spirits teach Scrooge to value family and companionship, so he embraces his nephew’s family and becomes a father figure to Tiny Tim.
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Jacob Marley (1/2)

Marley’s ghost has come to warn Scrooge:

  • Marley’s main role in the novel is to warn Scrooge about what will happen after he dies.
  • Marley and Scrooge have similar personalities – they’re “two kindred spirits”, who are obsessed with money and don’t care about other people. They’re so similar that Scrooge lives in Marley’s old rooms and even answers to Marley’s name – “it was all the same to him”. 
  • Marley’s punishment is the consequence of a self-centred, “misused” life. 
  • Scrooge feels “the chilling influence” of Marley’s “death-cold eyes”, and when the ghost removes the bandage from its head, its “lower jaw dropped down upon its breast” – a horrible image. Marley’s terrifying appearance reflects the frightening nature of his message.
  • Marley gives off an “infernal” (hellish) atmosphere, and his clothes are “agitated as by the hot vapour from an oven”. This description links Marley to ideas of Hell and eternal suffering.
  • The chain Marley wears is made of money-related objects. It was forged because he cared more about money than people. The chain is particularly disturbing for Scrooge because Marley tells him that he bears a similar, but larger, chain.
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Jacob Marley (2/2)

Marley tries to help Scrooge:

  • Marley regrets that he didn’t change his ways whilst he was alive – it’s too late for him to avoid suffering. All he can do is offer Scrooge the chance to escape the same fate.
  • He has stood invisibly at Scrooge’s shoulder for “many a day” in the past. He acts as a kind of hellish guardian angel to Scrooge.
  • Marley says that his presence now is “a chance and hope” of his own “procuring”. This suggests that he’s tried (and succeeded) to find a way to help Scrooge and give him a chance to save himself.
  • Marley is acting selflessly – he’s helping a friend, even though he has no hope of redemption himself.
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Fred (1/2)

Fred is a complete contrast to Scrooge:

  • Fred arrives in Scrooge’s offices “all in a glow” and “his eyes sparkled” – this emphasises the warmth and friendliness of his character. He is the opposite of the cold Scrooge.
  • Fred disagrees with Scrooge’s miserly values. He thinks that Scrooge’s wealth is useless because “he don’t do any good with it” – suggesting that, unlike Scrooge, he values happiness more than money.
  • He’s empathetic – he’s “heartily sorry” for the Cratchit family after Tim dies, even though he barely knows them. This contrasts with Scrooge, who begins the  novel as.a self-centred person who doesn’t care for others.

Fred is a cheerful man:

  • Fred’s personality is defined by his distinctive and pleasant laugh. The narrator says he’d like to meet “a man more blest in a laugh than Scrooge’s nephew”. Fred’s laugh illustrates his cheerfulness and optimism.
  • He’s even-tempered and refuses to argue with Scrooge. He tells Scrooge “I’ll keep my Christmas humour to the last”, and later says that he “couldn’t be angry” with Scrooge if he tried.
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Fred (2/2)

Fred is a cheerful man:

  • Fred shows insight when he says Scrooge’s “offences carry their own punishment” – he understands that by refusing to embrace his family, Scrooge is only hurting himself.
  • He’s determined to include Scrooge in the celebrations: “I mean to give him the same chance, every year, whether he likes it or not”. He believes in the importance of being kind at Christmas, especially to family.

Fred shows true Christmas spirit:

  • Dickens presents Fred as someone who shows lots of the values associated with Christmas and the Christmas spirit.
  • Fred shows generosity to Scrooge in inviting him to his party, and forgiveness when he welcomes Scrooge into his home, despite Scrooge’s behaviour – “IT is a mercy he didn’t shake his arm off”.
  • Fred also knows how to have fun – his Christmas party is an enjoyable occasion, which is filled with games and laughter.
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The Ghosts

The three ghosts are different - but they all help Scrooge:

  • Dickens characterises the three ghosts very differently, which adds interest and variety to the story. The first ghost is a contradictory figure, who's both strong and gentle at the same time. The second ghost is a cheerful, jolly giant - and in contrast, the third ghost is silent and ominous.
  • The ghosts exist outside the boundaries of human time, and they show Scrooge visions of the past, present, and future. This gives the novel a magical, dream-like mood.
  • Scrooge learns from each of his encounters with the ghosts. They make him realise what the impact and consequences of his past and present behaviour could be.
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The Ghost of Christmas Past

The Ghost of Christmas Past represents memory and truth:

  • The Ghost of Christmas Past's appearance is a strange mixture of child-like and aged. It's connected, through Scrooge's memory, to different stages of Scrooge's life.
  • A "bright, clear jet of light" shines from its head - the truth that can be found in memories.
  • The ghost is strong but quiet. Its voice is "low" as if "it were at a distance" like it's speaking to Scrooge from somewhere far away, or long ago. This emphasises the spirit's connection to Scrooge's distant past.
  • The ghost helps the reader sympathise with Scrooge by showing us that parts of his childhood were miserable, and that he wasn't always so cold and unfeeling

The first spirit is forceful to help Scrooge change:

  • The spirit makes Scrooge explain the things that he realises when he sees the visions of his past. For example, its insistent questions ("What is the matter?.. Something, I think?") force Scrooge to explain what he's realised after Fezziwig's party that sometimes it's important to spend money generously, because of the happiness it gives to others.
  • The memory of Belle is "torture" for Scrooge - he begs the ghost to let him leave, but the spirit is too strong for him - “it pinioned him in both his arms" and "forced" him to watch. 
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The Ghost of Christmas Present

The Ghost of Christmas Present generously helps others:

  • The Ghost of Christmas compassionate. It sprinkles incense and water from its torch as a blessing, and it restores the "good humour" of angry people so that they can enjoy Christmas.
  • The ghost is closely associated with abundance and generosity. For example, the torch the spirit carries resembles "Plenty's horn" a symbol of abundance from Greek and Roman mythology) and generously sprinkles blessings from it on those who need it most.
  • Its scabbard has no sword in it, and it's rusted suggesting that Christmas should be a time for peace, not fighting other people.

The second ghost is upset about poverty:

  • The Ghost of Christmas Present has "sympathy with all poor men", and is "sorrowful" at the sight of Ignorance and Want. The spirit cares about the poor and it challenges Scrooge's previous harsh words about poverty-calling them "wicked".
  • The spirit speaks emotionally about the way that society ignores the problem of poverty. It argues that society denies the problems of ignorance and want, and suggests that ignoring these problems will eventually lead to society's "Doom".
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The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is a sinister figure:

  • The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come represents Scrooge's future. The ghost is "shrouded in a deep black garment" - its mysterious appearance implies that the future cannot be known for sure.
  • The ghost is silent and intimidating. It points instead of speaking, and won't answer Scrooge's questions. This adds to the sense of mystery surrounding it.
  • It's only when Scrooge begins to beg that the ghost shows any kind of reaction at all -its "kind hand trembled". This could suggest that the ghost pities Scrooge, reminding the reader that the ghosts are trying to help him.
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The Cratchit Family

The Cratchit are poor but loving:

  • Mr and Mrs Cratchit have six children Martha, Peter, Belinda, two "smaller Cratchits" and Tiny Tim. Except for Martha, they all live in the same four-roomed house. They're loving and cheerful despite their poverty.
  • Dickens's depiction of the Cratchits reminds the reader that poor people are not just a social problem- they're individuals who share joys, love, sorrows and fears like anyone else.
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Mrs Cratchit

Mrs Cratchit is good-natured and busy:

  • Mrs Cratchit works hard to make the Cratchit family happy. The Christmas goose has to be "eked out" to feed the whole family, but the Cratchits greet the food with "universal admiration".
  • Although she thinks Scrooge is an "odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man", she still drinks to his health, because Bob wants her to and she loves him.
  • When Tim dies she's protective of her family's feelings. She speaks in a "steady, cheerful voice" and hides her "weak eyes" from Bob -she doesn't want to add to his worries.
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Bob Cratchit (1/2)

Bob Cratchit is Scrooge’s employee:

  • As Scrooge's clerk, Bob is uncomplaining and tolerant. He works quietly in his "dismal little cell" of an office despite the bitter cold.
  • He's courteous and deferential-he returns Fred's greetings "cordially" and addresses Scrooge as "sir".
  • Bob is patient when Scrooge grumbles about his taking Christmas day off. Bob remains civil despite Scrooge's continually grumpy attitude.
  • His eagerness and pleasure regarding Christmas contrast with Scrooge's attitude. Bob can't help applauding Fred's speech about the joy of Christmas-which contrasts with Scrooge's grumpy response - "Humbug!"
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Tiny Tim

Tiny Tim is frail - but he doesn’t complain:

  • Tiny Tim is fragile and very ill. His father carries him on his shoulders and is especially close him, whilst Tim's siblings make sure he joins in all the fun.
  • Dickens presents Tiny Tim as a good character by showing us his religious nature. Tim hopes people see him in church, because he wants to remind people about "who made lame beggars walk" (Jesus). He also echoes his father's toast "God bless us every one!"
  • Dickens also uses Tim to show how poverty can lead to suffering and death. If Scrooge hadn't helped the Cratchits, Tiny Tim would've died.
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The Cratchit Children

The Cratchit children are hard-working:

  • Peter is Bob's "son and heir". He likes the idea of being rich and upper class- he proudly wears Bob's "shirt collar, and "yearned to show his linen in the fashionable Parks".
  • Bob is keen for Peter to start working as a "man of business", while Martha works hard as a milliners apprentice (making hats). Dickens emphasises that the Cratchit children aren't lazy or unwilling to work, to challenge the beliefs of those who thought that poverty was often linked to laziness.
  • The Cratchits all help out with the Christmas dinner, even the youngest children- they work together as a family.
  • The young Cratchits are excitable - they "crammed spoons into their mouths, lest they should shriek for goose". Their excitement adds to the positivity of the Cratchit household.
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Fan

Fan helps to break Scrooge’s isolation:

  • Fan was Scrooge's sister, who was affectionate, loving and full of laughter. The ghost and Scrooge agree that "she had a large heart".
  • She had a strong bond with Scrooge-she calls him "Dear, dear brother", and he calls her "quite a woman".
  • Fan had asked her father more than once to allow Scrooge to come home. Her excitement shows how important it is for her to spend Christmas with Scrooge.
  • Fan is dead by the time the main events of the book take place -this makes the reader pity Scrooge for having lost the sister he once loved.
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Fezziwig

Fezziwig is a businessman with a generous heart:

  • Mr Fezziwig was Scrooge's genial, cheerful employer when he was a young apprentice. Fezziwig is used as a contrast to Scrooge-but he's a model for the man that Scrooge later becomes.
  • Fezziwig makes his warehouse "snug, and warm, and dry, and bright" for a Christmas party for family and workers. This contrasts with Scrooge's mean, dark office when he's an employer himself.
  • Fezziwig and his wife dance vigorously at the party. He's a jovial, energetic figure.
  • Fezziwig has the power to make people's lives good or bad, and he chooses to make them good. He doesn't spend lots of money on the party, but what he does spend is used to bring joy to others, which creates a great deal of happiness. Scrooge realises this, and begins to do the same in his own life.
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Belle

Belle tells Scrooge some hard truths:

  • Belle was Scrooge's beautiful, wise fiancée. She releases Scrooge from their engagement because she sees he has begun to love money more than her.
  • She's poor and knows that Scrooge, who weighs "everything by Gain", has become reluctant to marry her.
  • This separation is a turning point in Scrooge's life. Belle ends up with a family and a home, which, despite being "not very large or handsome", is "full of comfort". In contrast, Scrooge chooses a lonely life devoted to money.
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The Portly Gentlemen

The charity collectors have a sense of social responsibility:

  • The charity collectors are two "portly", "pleasant" men who visit Scrooge's offices looking for donations to the poor.
  • They have compassion for the poor, and they show the importance of charity at Christmas- a time when "Want is keenly felt" amongst those in poverty.
  • The charity collectors convey Dickens's belief that prisons and workhouses weren't acceptable places to send the poor and that many people "would rather die" than go to one. They point out how important it is for people to understand their social responsibility towards those who are less fortunate.
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Joe & The Thieves

Joe and the thieves are as greedy and ruthless as Scrooge:

  • Joe runs a seedy, disreputable shop in a filthy part of the city.
  • The three thieves who are there have stolen Scrooge's possessions sell to Joe. They feel justified in doing so-it's "no sin" because Scrooge was such a "wicked old screw" whilst he was alive.
  • They're disrespectful about Scrooge-they laugh about the thefts, and one of them has even taken the shirt from Scrooge's corpse she says it would have been "wasted" on him.
  • By isolating himself from friends and family, Scrooge has ensured that his possessions end up in the wrong hands. Instead of helping deserving people like the Cratchits, Scrooge's wealth is profiting thieves.
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The Wealthy London Businessmen

The wealthy London businessmen don’t care about Scrooge:

  • The merchants Scrooge sees in Chapter Four are obsessed by wealth. They play with "great gold seals" and jingle the money in their pockets. Like Scrooge, they represent the greedy rich people of Victorian society.
  • They don't care about Scrooge's death- they don't even use his name and one says he will only attend the funeral for the free lunch.
  • One merchant has a "monstrous chin" and another has a growth on his nose that "shook like the gills of a turkey-****. These details dehumanise the men and reflect the ugliness of their attitudes.
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Bob Cratchit (2/2)

He’s also a kind and devoted father:

  • Bob is a good-humoured, playful father. He carries Tiny Tim home from the Christmas church service on his shoulders, and on his way home on Christmas Eve he takes twenty turns sliding down an icy street -despite having no coat.
  • When he thinks Martha isn't joining the family for Christmas, he's upset. He hugs her "to his heart's content" when she appears.
  • He's caring and tender with Tiny Tim, who sits "very close to his father's side" while Bob holds his hand.
  • Despite his grief at Tim's death, he tries to be cheerful around his family, in order to spare them more pain "I am very happy,' said little Bob."
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