How does Dickens use the Ghost of Christmas Past to show Scrooge’s desire to change and his regret?

Essay on Regret in Stave Two

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  • Created by: Marrino13
  • Created on: 21-05-13 15:24

Introduction

The Ghost of Christmas Past is the first spirit that is sent to visit Scrooge and he represents memory when he arrives in Stave Two. He takes Scrooge on a journey through many significant occasions in his past to reawaken his memories of his life in an attempt to make him see the error of his ways, which will hopefully change him. The stave has a chronological structure with each Christmas that is visited being later on in Scrooge’s life than the preceding one. The events in this stave are important to the plot of the story because they are the first occasions that show Scrooge’s changes of character. 

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Childhood

The first memory that the Ghost takes Scrooge to visit is one from his childhood when he was left alone at school after everyone else has returned home for the holidays. This visit is symbolic of Scrooge’s desire to change regarding his emotions. For the first time since the beginning of the novella, we see Scrooge show emotion as ‘he sobbed’ when he saw the younger version of himself all alone. He has ‘pity for his younger self’ which shows that he is expressing the emotions that he has held in for so many years because he has blocked all of his memories out. The Spirit forces him to remember these memories and in doing so also forces him to accept the emotions that come with them.

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Emotion

Scrooge’s character is also developed during this memory as the reader witnesses his passion for something else rather than money. He ‘exclaimed in ecstasy’ when he saw ‘Ali Baba’ which indicates that he once has a passion for reading as the ‘Genii’ and ‘the Sultan’s Groom’ are all story characters that he refers to, but he talks about them as if they are real people. This outburst of enthusiasm would have reminded him that there were things in the world to make him happy which may have changed the way that he spent his days because the Spirit’s journey reminded him how to be happy.

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Carol Singer

This memory also shows how Scrooge is already feeling regret over his actions previously in the day. He shows this when he says he ‘should like to have given him [the carol singer] something.’ He is obviously comparing his ‘solitary’ child for with the carol boy who tried to sing to him earlier in the chapter, and he wishes he could retract his harsh words because he remembers feeling like nobody cared because the Spirit reawakens his previous emotions; this allows him to feel regret for his actions so that he then feels a desire to change his actions. 

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Fan

The next memory that Scrooge revisits is when his little sister Fan comes to visit him to inform him that his father is allowing him to return home. The language that the younger Scrooge uses in the memory when he is talking to Fan suggests that he is very fond of her. He refers to her as ‘little Fan’ twice and the word ‘little’ is often used as an affectionate term to describe someone who we care for or feel protective of. At the end of the memory, the Ghost speak to Scrooge and mentions her son, Scrooge’s nephew Fred, who Scrooge had been unpleasant and rude to earlier that morning when he had refused the offer to accept his invitation for Christmas dinner. The narrator then mentions that Scrooge was ‘uneasy in his mind’ as Fred became the subject. This shows that after being reminded of the love he had for his sister, Scrooge feels guilt and regret about not transferring that love to her son and the fact that he was ‘uneasy’ also suggests that he wishes he had been nicer towards Fred in the past.

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Happiness

The following memory occurs several years after the meeting with Fan when Scrooge was a ‘young man’ who was now ‘apprenticed.’ This is the first Christmas where Scrooge is happy and surrounded by people who appear to be fond of him. The older Scrooge’s ‘heart and soul were in the scene’ which suggests that Scrooge longed for his Christmases to be happy once more. 

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Fezziwigs

This memory reminds the older Scrooge of the way his boss treated him and he compares it to the way he treats Bob Cratchit. ‘Old Fezziwig’ encourages Scrooge and Dick to enjoy Christmas which is very different to the begrudging way that Scrooge allowed Bob to have Christmas day off. Fezziwig is obviously fond of Scrooge as he refers to the two apprentices as ‘my boys’ whereas Scrooge frightens Cratchit. We see that Scrooge regrets these actions later on in the stave when he speaks to the Ghost and says ‘I should like to be able to say a word or two to my clerk right now.’ This shows that Scrooge feels remorse for his actions towards the clerk and that he wishes he could say something to him in an attempt to right his own wrong doings towards Bob.

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Happines VS Wealth

Finally, this memory shows how Scrooge wishes to change his perspective regarding his opinion of happiness linked to wealth. Earlier on in the novella Scrooge remarks that Fred couldn’t possibly be happy because he was ‘poor enough.’ But in this memory he expresses how ‘the happiness he [Fezziwig] gives is quite as great as if it cost a fortune’ which shows that already his memories have changed how he sees happiness, indicating a change in the character of Scrooge, and illustrates the themes of happiness and greed because Scrooge no longer associates greed with happiness.

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Belle

The final memories that the Spirit takes Scrooge to visit concern his sweetheart Belle. The first memory where she appears is when she breaks off the engagement that she and Scrooge were committed to. Scrooge doesn’t disagree with her points and lets her leave. She uses the image that they ‘are two’ instead of one and this leads to ‘misery.’ The older Scrooge obviously regrets this decision because he asks the Spirit to stop the ‘torture,’ indicating that he regrets his decision to let Belle leave him because it left him miserable and the reminder of her makes him feel even worse about it.

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Happines VS Wealth

Finally, this memory shows how Scrooge wishes to change his perspective regarding his opinion of happiness linked to wealth. Earlier on in the novella Scrooge remarks that Fred couldn’t possibly be happy because he was ‘poor enough.’ But in this memory he expresses how ‘the happiness he [Fezziwig] gives is quite as great as if it cost a fortune’ which shows that already his memories have changed how he sees happiness, indicating a change in the character of Scrooge, and illustrates the themes of happiness and greed because Scrooge no longer associates greed with happiness.

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Older Belle

The final vision that the Spirit revisits is not one of Scrooge’s memories, but it is Belle’s current life. She has many children and the atmosphere around her in her house is that of ‘joy’ and ‘gratitude’ in comparison to the atmosphere of ‘misery’ that engulfed her when she was with Scrooge. Scrooge’s ‘sight grew very dim indeed’ whilst watching Belle with her new husband as he is crying, another indication of his changed character. These tears indicate that he regrets letting Belle go because he realises at this point that he could have had all of this happiness if he had been less obsessed with money. 

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'Summer in the haggard winter'

Scrooge’s desire to change is shown in this vision when the narrative voice mentions that he ‘looked on more attentively than ever’ when the daughter was with her father because he wished that it was him who she called father. The narrative voice uses the image of the daughter becoming ‘springtime in the haggard winter of his life.’ This image indicates Scrooge’s desire for change because he isn’t happy with his life and wishes that he had done something to prevent his own ‘misery.’

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Conclusion

To conclude, Scrooge’s visions in stave two obviously change him as a person and the main focus is the amount of emotion he shows in comparison to the grumpy old man in stave one. However, he isn’t fully cured of his ways as at the end of the stave he ‘wrestled’ with the Spirit, which is symbolic of him wrestling with his own regretful memories which indicates he hasn’t fully accepted the fact that he must change.

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Comments

:) PurpleJaguar (: - Team GR

This is really helpful at reminding me of the first part of the story, thanks a lot :)

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