”A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens Essay Sample

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Explore how the portrayal of children and family relationships in A Christmas Carol by Dickens reflects the thoughts and feelings of the author.

A Christmas carol was written by Charles Dickens in 1843 it is a novel about a man called Scrooge journeying through Christmas’s past, present and future, he is ultimately transformed from an arrogant, obstinate and insensitive old man to a generous, warm hearted and caring human being. Dickens uses a wide range of techniques in A Christmas carol to portray his thoughts and feelings; he uses repetition, effective language, powerful verbs, unique imagery and a variety of sentence lengths and punctuation.

The first family scene that I felt was important was a family scene at the Cratchits; Dickens describes children in a way that was not always deemed correct in Victorian times. “Every child was conducting itself like forty”, this tells me that Dickens doesn’t want children to experience what he had to in his childhood, Dickens was sent to work in a factory when he was young to support his family, as shown in this quote he wants them enjoy themselves to the full In the first Cratchit scene the younger Cratchits are dancing, “the young cratchets danced around the table”, dickens condones the children’s actions and is happy they are having fun. Dickens uses imagery to involve us in the Christmas meal and make us see what they are eating, Dickens also shows how close families are no matter how troubled, using a Christmas pudding; “nobody said or thought it was at all small pudding for a large pudding”. The size doesn’t cross the family’s mind and as long as they are all together they are happy.

In the scene, Dickens uses the phrase, “Universal admiration”, to describe how the family feel about the goose. It shows that even though they haven’t got a real turkey they don’t take anything for granted. The phrase implies that the whole universe admires it but in reality it’s just an average goose.

Following on, in the next family scene you see the closeness of the Cratchits on Christmas day. Dickens also uses the idea of their dinner to portray closeness within the family: “at last all the dishes were set on, and grace was said”. This is in contrast to the Upper Classes of the day when the adults would entertain guests and the children would eat separately. It shows the closeness a poor family can share without much money.

In the scene with the goose Dickens uses the phrase, “Universal admiration”, to describe how the family f

eel about the goose. It shows that even though they haven’t got a real turkey they don’t

take anything for granted. The phrase implies that the whole universe admires it but in reality it’s just an average goose.

Dickens uses his narrative style with a variety of sentence lengths and verbs to capture the intensity of the scene, he sets the pace of the scene and ensures it gives us the impression that the family are all rushing with excitement and to show his thoughts about how Christmas should be celebrated: “two smaller Cratchits came tearing in, screaming”. This quote shows the excitement of the children with the words: “tearing” and “screaming”. These are not words normally associated with happy children but using an eleven-line sentence, his narrative style and these verbs, Dickens ensures that the scene is fast, boisterous, detailed and joyous.

Furthermore he also uses his original imagery very well in this Cratchit scene: “potatoes bubbling up, knocking loudly to be let out”. This image keeps in well with the franticness of the scene, when the family are getting the dinner ready, as the potatoes need to knock loudly to be heard over all of the noise and amount that is happening.

When the second of the three spirits appears two new characters are introduced, a girl called want and a boy called ignorance. Dickens describes want and ignorance as twisted and unreal: “No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity”. The repetition of no implies that there is no hope or future for these children, Dickens uses the word perversion to imply that the children are unnatural and twisted and if they were any other children he would use a much kinder and warmer word because he is such a lover of children.

Dickens uses a variety of adjectives to create imagery to describe ignorance and want: “yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolf like”. He attempts to give the reader an animal like image; the word wolf like gives the image thin and repulsive to make us the readers think of them as anything but children. Ragged and scowling support the wolf like image because those words are normally what we associate wolves with. The word scowling interested me because I feel that normal children cry but wolves scowl and I can imagine the children doing that when they aren’t happy or don’t condone something.

The mood and atmosphere changes greatly in the second scene involving the Cratchits this is mainly due to tiny Tim’s death, Dickens writes in a style that shows he is shocked of how the atmosphere differs in both scenes, he uses repetition to show the mellow atmosphere “quiet, very quiet”. Dickens gives us the impression that he is unsure whether these are really the Cratchits, the repetition worked well because it is almost like a question, are they really that quiet? It seems like he doesn’t want it to be the Cratchit children because they were so happy at one point, so he is waiting for the answer yes it isn’t really the Cratchit children, it is almost as if he is feeling the Cratchits pain.

Dickens uses the simile “still as statues” to give us an image of the Cratchits not moving at all, not running and dancing around the table! The Cratchits are all upset because of the death of Tiny Tim and small things persist in making them even lower: “the colour hurt my eyes, the colour reminds them of vibrant and colourful Tiny Tim. Tiny Tim played an important role in the Cratchit family and once he has gone Dickens’ style of writing changes from an upbeat and happy style to a sad, emotional and mellow style.

To conclude I feel that Dickens does portray his thought and feelings in A Christmas Carol and you can tell what he is feeling and you can tell what kind of a man he is and what he thinks about children, he doesn’t go along with traditional Victorian views enjoys seeing children play and be happy and when they are not he lets you know that isn’t happy about it.

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