A Christmas Carol is one of Charles Dickens’ most famous and best-loved works. On Christmas Eve, money-obsessed, selfish miser Ebenezer Scrooge gets an unexpected visitor: the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley. The apparition warns him that he will wear chains even heavier than his for eternity if he doesn’t change his ways. During the night, three more ghosts haunt Scrooge: The ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. They remind Scrooge of his innocent, poor, struggling youth self; show him the warm although poverty-stricken celebration his loyal clerk Bob Cratchitt enjoys with his family and introduces him to his crippled son Tiny Tim; show him the happy celebration his late sister’s son, Fred, enjoys with his wife and friends; and, finally, reveal the lonely future that awaits him, dead, mourned by not a single person on Earth, and robbed. After that experience, Scrooge resolves to be a better man.
However, I always wondered would Scrooge change if the third ghost hadn’t shown him what could befall him. Sure, he was upset because of Tiny Tim and didn’t want him to die. Sure, he was upset because of the two horrible, emaciated children, Ignorance and Want. Sure, he enjoyed the games and fun at Fred’s celebration. But would that be enough for him to change? Or did he have to witness what appalled him the most ‒ his frightening, loveless, lonely future? Did he really change or did he repent only to save himself from such a gloomy life and afterlife? Is his repentance pure-hearted or selfish?
Dickens grew up in poverty and knew first-hand how harsh are the conditions in which poor people in London lived. He tried to raise awareness of the hardships poor children face daily, and his intentions were undoubtedly pure. And A Christmas Carol is a beautiful story, of course. Yet, it makes me wonder about Scrooge’s motives. Care to share your thoughts on that?