Charity in a Christmas Carol and It’s Long Term Effect

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a classic story that has been around for ages. This story has changed people’s view and feelings about the Christmas season. Written during a time of poverty for Dickens this story is still helping others to this day, as some of the charities he gave to and set up are still donating money they raise during the Christmas season. A Christmas Carol has changed the way that we view Christmas. Dickens also wrote it in attempt to change others views on the poor, encourage the rich to give to charity, donate to the poor, and to advocate for the disabled and orphaned children.

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A Christmas Carol has paved the way for the season of giving and is still laying a new path as generations to come will give to those less fortunate.

Today we have a wide range of wealth in our society. We classify them into three main groups; the lower class, middle class, and the upper class. The lower class is usually made up of those in poverty, or just barely making it over the poverty mark. While being in the middle class doesn’t usually mean that you are rich, it doesn’t mean that you are not making ends meet. Money may still be an issue but putting food on the table is a little more easy. Most think that those in the upper class are happy, living a great life, and have all the money they could want; but it isn’t always sunny in paradise. Studies have shown that having more money, does not always mean more happiness. In A Christmas Carol we see that Tiny Tim and his family are living in poverty, but that doesn’t stop them from being happy. To add to the hardship that Tiny Tim’s family experiences, Tiny Tim is also crippled; but even his disability doesn’t get him down. Their happiness stems from being a family and being together. They don’t dwell over why they don’t have enough money, the unfortunate situation of having their eldest daughter work, or why their child was born disabled. They are happy that they have money to put food on the table, and each other to spend time with and make memories together. According to an article written in the Toronto star: Why ‘A Christmas Carol’ is more relevant than ever, Aly Kamadia writes, “Moreover, the joy experienced by Tiny Tim shouldn’t be overlooked. In Dickens’s story, both the crippled boy and his family are happy despite barely being able to meet essential needs. It would be easy to find armies of social psychologists to explain away this happiness based on strong and meaningful relationships” (Kamadia). Money isn’t the answer to happiness, while it may bring happiness for a short period, money cannot keep happiness going.

Scrooge is depicted as a selfish man who keeps all his money to himself. He is a lonely, old man, with no empathy towards people or those in need. Even though he is well off and capable of helping he still doesn’t make the effort to help. When two gentlemen visit him in his office the day before Christmas to ask for a donation to charity to help the poor, Scrooge says, “Are there no prisons? […] And the union workhouses? […] Are they still in operation?” (Dickens). The gentlemen are put off by his attitude and try and convince Scrooge to give to charity by explaining to him that tax money isn’t sufficient enough to keep the workhouses in a workable condition. The two men try to explain that they chose this time to come to Scrooge as it is the Christmas season and that they hope that people feel more willing to give; but Scrooge just ignores their pleas and insists that he will not spend his money on charity cases.

As the Victoria era progressed and the Industrial Revolution began, there was a growing divide between those who were wealthy and those who were poor and in debt. The wealthy were profiting from the growing industry while the poor went more into debt just trying to feed their families. “In London, in 1824, it was custom to treat a debtor little differently from a man who had reached into a purse and stolen a similar sum […] imprisoned alongside smugglers, mutineers, and pirates”” (Standiford 2-3). While the Industrial Revolution was blooming, child labor was too. Children were put to work sweeping chimneys, working in mines, and other jobs that were hard for adults to fit into. Dickens was passionate about supporting children’s rights during his time, but unfortunately children labor law’s and children’s rights were almost nonexistent during the Victorian era. He wrote his book to prompt others to bring kindness back into society and be loving and caring to all around.

Dickens was a social reformer and he knew that if he published a book with his opinion on the way society was developing, and there for lacking in certain ways the book would not sell; thus, not getting out his message and would leave readers offended. Instead he turned his criticism and opinions into an inviting story during the Christmas season and formed it so that the reader could form their own understanding of what society was lacking. In A Christmas Carol Dickens emphasizes the large divide between the rich and poor in British society. Where the wealthy were only interested in their finical gain and the poor ended up in workhouses or debtors’ prison. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Dickens disapproved of the terrible treatment of children, and his advocacy for children labor laws. In A Christmas carol he introduces Bob Cratchit’s son, Tiny Tim, as a small and disabled young boy, to prompt his readers into feeling empathy and compassion for the lower class. He also confronts the upper classes with their lack of private charity, and the insufficient funding of a welfare system from the government. We see a prime example of this in A Christmas Carol when Marley’s ghost comes to visit Scrooge. “‘I wish,’ Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his pocket, and looking about him, after drying his eyes with his cuff: ‘but it’s too late now.’ ‘What is the matter?’ asked the Spirit. ‘Nothing,’ said Scrooge. ‘Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should like to have given him something: that’s all’” (Dickens). Scrooge shows off his selfishness when he doesn’t give some money to the young caroler, and only then comes to the realization that he should have donated after it is to late.

Scrooge comes to recognizes the true meaning of Christmas when the ghost of Christmas present takes Scrooge to visit the house of the Cratchit’s. They are in the process of getting ready for a Christmas dinner. Scrooge and the ghost of Christmas present find Mrs. Cratchit along with the children prepping the table and food. Everyone rejoices when the eldest daughter of the Cratchit family, Marta, comes home from working a long shift. They are grateful that she made it home to celebrate with them. It is then when everyone is gathered together that the home is filled with Christmas spirit. Dickens emphasizes that this is how Christmas should be spent. Spending time with family and celebrating together, even if it means only have a small feast. Dickens put it this way to hint to the readers that this the most essential part of Christmas. Scrooge watches the Cratchit’s dinner. Mr. Cratchit makes a toast in honor of Scrooge, thanking him for giving his family a Christmas meal, because without the work that he has he wouldn’t have been able to give them this dinner. “I’ll give you Mr. Scrooge, the Founder of the Feast.” (Dickens). Even though Mr. Cratchit’s working conditions are horrible and seem to most, unworkable, it shows how pleased he is to have a stable job and that he is a loyal employee.

Scrooge lives in a large house which is depicted as old and dreary, which pairs well with his personality. Scrooge symbolizes the greedy and selfish Victorian rich upper class. He is a bitter man with lots of money but ends up living like a poor person, not out of necessity but out of greed. “Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern” (Dickens). Scrooge may be wealthy, but his wealth doesn’t mean anything when compared to the Cratchit’s and their happiness that they achieve through their family bond. Scrooge’s family, his nephew Fred and his wife, invited him for Christmas dinner, but he couldn’t see the value of the invitation. Scrooge had the opportunity to find happiness in his life, but he only sees the effort he had to put in. Fred concludes that “His wealth is of no use to him. He don’t do any good with it.” (Dickens). The Cratchit’s are not wealthy in the money department, but they are wealthy when it comes to happiness, love, and human value. They see happiness in the small things, and don’t get worked up over not being well off. They provide a huge contrast between them and Scrooge and emphasize one of the novels main themes presented to the readers; that family and the spirit of giving is more important than money and possessions. Dickens criticizes the Victorian societal understanding of humanity and points out that this is what’s missing from Victorian Christmas’s.

Dickens’s charity to those in poverty, especially those set up for children are still giving money to the foundations and hospitals to this very day. Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol changed how people view those in poverty and children who are orphaned and alone. According to a newspaper in England, an article written by Ruth Hughes says, “The Old Vic Theatre in London is currently raising funds for Field Lane during performances of A Christmas Carol, starring Rhys Ifans. Field Lane is now a national charity working to support people with learning disabilities and vulnerable families” (Hughes). When writing this story Dickens himself was struggling with poverty. He wrote this book to try and make some money to support him and his family. After other book failures and his trip to America, which didn’t go as well as planned, A Christmas Carol took off with soaring sales when it was first released. According to, it quotes; “He sold out the first print run in a week, all 6,000 copies of it.” (Eschner) The book continued to be a hit success as it went on to sell 15,000 copies by the end of the next year. Unfortunately for Dickens, he used high quality materials for his book and chose to sell it at a lower price, so most of the profit didn’t end up making it back to him. “Dickens supported the establishment of children’s hospital in London in 1858, he gave readings of A Christmas Carol to help raise funds, and he held speech to appeal to the upper classes – the sponsors – to support the hospital in any way” (Forster). Dickens really tried to place emphasis on giving to those in need and charity. His efforts to raise charity and be more giving during the Christmas season paid off as now all over their world Christmas is seen as a time of giving instead of receiving.

While most think of Christmas stories depicting tables filled with food, that wasn’t the case during the nineteenth century. Christmas literature during the Victorian era addressed famine and starving. According to an article written by Tara Moore, she says; “Starvation entered the print matter of Christmas ?rst as part of a social argument and later as a concern for the abiding national identity that had become intertwined with Christmas itself and, more symbolically, Christmas fare” (Moore). The publishing of Christmas literature started to become more popular during the start of the nineteenth century. As the writings became more popular messages were intertwined into the literary works such as social messages and emphasis on charity and donations.

As we think of the Christmas literature that we grew up on, along with how we view the Christmas season in general, we see it as a time of giving. A time to be charitable and to help others before we think of spending the money we have set aside on presents. There are many ways that one can donate or help during the Christmas season, one of the most popular ways of donating during Christmas is to put change and money into buckets that have people standing by them outside of stores. When December rolls around the red donation pales make an appearance. There is always at least one person standing beside it wearing a red apron that says Salvation Army on it and ringing a bell wishing those who pass by a Merry Christmas. They hope that a cheery smile and well wish will encourage the people passing to donate if they have any cash or change. Many of times, kids will ask parents for change or money to stick into the pale, and to get a chance at ringing the bell. The innocence of the child asking their parents to donate, is an influence of those they see donating in front of them, but also the structural raising they receive from their parents.

Stores will often also include donation spots inside weather its donating money while checking out or rounding up a total to donate to a charity. Toys for Tots is a popular charity organization that goes around and collects new toys to give to kids whose family can’t afford presents at Christmas. Operation Children is another popular children’s charity that has those giving the donation pick a specific age for a child and pack a shoe box for them. Included in the shoebox can be clothing, hygiene products, school necessities, candy, and toys. A small donation is required so that postage and shipping can be covered, but the boxes are delivered free to the families in need.

Many families who have kids try and to raise their kids with a structural upbringing to be thankful for the gifts they receive, and to encourage giving during the Christmas season. Growing up I remember as December started a Christmas tree would be set up in the church lobby and tags would be added to the branches. The tags were in the shapes of ornaments, but on the back they had a piece of paper with information on it. You could pick as many tags as you wanted off the tree and it would have the age of a child, their clothing, shoes, and coat sizes that they needed, along with they few toys that they wanted for Christmas. My parents would always have us each pick a tag off and then use our own money from our piggy banks to pick out a toy that the child wanted and purchase it while they bought the clothes and other necessities needed. My parents instilled the urge to give from a young age. While it was hard to process as a young child, getting older it always made us feel good to be able to give to a child who was less fortunate than us, and know that they would get things they needed along with a toy that they wanted. While it may not be a process that every family in the world goes through, I know that this will be a tradition that I carry on through my life and share with my kids once I have them. In hopes that as they grow older and have kids of their own that they will pass along the gift of giving.

Dickens wanted to change how people viewed and thought of those in poverty and less fortunate, and he has made a big impact during the Christmas season. While many still suffer in this day and age with money, social class, and other complications, there are many more charities in place to provide support. New and old charities continue to help finically and physically with children and families during the Christmas season by making sure their needs are met. Donation and giving to charities year-round have increased in popularity and is seen as something normal to do in today’s society. Orphaned and disabled children are no longer looked down upon and are regularly accepted into society. Their life is no longer a struggle of being abandoned or unwanted. Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol has made large impacts on the world and will continue to make impacts as his story is spread each season and with new variations made to keep appealing to the generations to come.

Works Cited:

Eschner, Kat. “Why Charles Dickens Wrote ‘A Christmas Carol.’”, Smithsonian Institution, 19 Dec. 2016, news/why-charles-dickens-wrote-christmas-carol-180961507/.

Dickens, Charles. “A Christmas Carol.” A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, 4 Aug. 2004,

Forster, John. The Life of Charles Dickens. Chapman & Hall, New York; London;, 1904.

Hughes, Ruth. “Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Still Helping Poverty-Stricken Pupils 180 Years On.”,, 3 Dec. 2017,

Kamadia, Aly. “”Why ‘A Christmas Carol’ is More Relevant than Ever.”” ProQuest, Dec 20, 2017,

Moore, Tara. “Starvation In Victorain Chirstmas Fiction.” Victorian Literature and Culture, vol. 36, no. 2, 2008, pp. 489–505., doi:10.1017/S1060150308080303.

Standiford, Les. The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits. Broadway Paperbacks, 2017.

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Charity in A Christmas Carol and It’s Long Term Effect. (2019, Sep 06). Retrieved from