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Ebenezer Scrooge is the miserly main character of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol first published in 1843. He is probably one of the most well known misers in literary history, and has become, over time, a symbol for transformation of the spirit.
Scrooge’s profession in business is a bit unclear. Some people believe he is a usurer, while others think he is a banker or property owner of sorts. At the beginning of the novel, we find him dwelling on the memory of his late partner Jacob Marley. It is clear that Scrooge clearly hates Christmas with great passion, and any sort of jolliness or merriment associated with Christmas spirit.
Scrooge’s nephew pays him a visit in the first section of the novel, and one soon sees that the miser is also contemptuous of love, and quite deliberately mean to all who might celebrate Christmas. Scrooge is also portrayed as a terrible and exacting employer who pays his clerk Bob Cratchitt very little, and who does not even allow the clerk much access to warmth from a fire.
As the short novel progresses, Dickens uses the invention of Christmas “Ghosts” or “Spirits” to elucidate on Scrooge’s past and his future should he continue in his evil ways. One Spirit shows him a past that reminds him of his loneliness as a child, his abiding love for his sister, the kindness of his first employer and then the break-up of his relationship to a young woman.
These visions all begin to work on the miser mightily. In fact he sheds tears when seeing himself alone and abandoned in a school. His next vision into Christmas Present helps Scrooge grasp the importance of the holiday. Most essential is his visit to his clerk’s home, where we meet the clerk’s son Tiny Tim. The Spirit of Christmas Present’s prediction that Tiny Tim will die without good food and medical care is clearly a converting moment for him.
He willingly embraces the Spirit showing his future, but is terrified by his fate, of dying alone and the subject of jokes by old business associates. Scrooge is given the chance to change and responds accordingly, keeping “Christmas in his heart” ever afterward.
The transformation of Scrooge is interesting to witness. As well, though his character is at first unlikable, he quickly becomes both humorous and likeable. Dickens' method of delving in the character’s past is an interesting psychological statement that holds consistent today. Many psychologists believe that poor behavior is a reflection of pain felt deep in childhood. Such is the case with Scrooge.
When Scrooge learns to pity himself, he can become empathetic to others. It is easy for him to suddenly relate to Tiny Tim, who earlier he would have dismissed as one of the “surplus population.” Scrooge’s complete reversal is sentimental but believable because Dickens has been sure to scribe the emotional path he takes to reform. Though sentimental, the change of heart is lovely to witness, and keeps people drawn to the popular book, and its numerous adaptations into plays and films.