The Development of Ebenezer Scrooge
Ebenezer Scrooge is the protagonist of the ?Christmas Carol The Musical?. He is the mean old owner of an accountant’s office in London. The musical follows Scrooge as three spirits of Christmas visit him in hopes of reversing his penny-pinching, cold-hearted approach to life. Scrooge realizes the errors of his ways throughout the musical and transforms to a more caring and compassionate citizen. Dickens uses Scrooge to criticize the divide between those who have money and those who do not, while also making a statement about how people can change and that life is a lot better if one is generous and considerate towards their community. Now Scrooge is a lonely character at the beginning of the musical, and Dickens’ use of language reflects this when outlining his relationship with his former clerk. “Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole friend, and sole mourner” (Dickens 1). The repetition of the word sole adds emphasis to the solitary nature of the lives led by Marley and now by Scrooge, and the narrator sums him up as a “squeezing wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner” (Dickens 1). This collection of words describe Scrooge as a character whose intention is to grab every last penny he can from anyone he encounters. There’s also a literal and metaphorical coldness associated with the early description of Scrooge. “He carried his own cold temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog days, and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas” (Dickens 1).
Dickens use of language again emphasizes Scrooge’s cold-hearted nature and attitude towards others. After the description of Scrooge we see him refuse to give any money to the two men collecting for the poor, rejecting his nephew Fred’s best wishes with a bah humbug, and refusing to give Bob Cratchit any time off for Christmas, saying it’s not convenient and not fair. These three situations show a very hard and unfriendly side to Scrooge, but when faced with Marley’s ghost we finally see a more vulnerable side to him. He implores the ghost to help him despite having resisted opportunities to help others earlier in the day. “Speak comfort to me, Jacob!” (Dickens 13). He has a taste of his own medicine when the ghost replies “I have none to give” (Dickens 13). From early in the musical, Dickens makes it clear that we reap what we sow in life, and that in order for people to care about us we must care about them first. The ghost of Christmas past seems to care for Scrooge, as the ghost talks about things like how his business is his welfare and then sings about saving his immortal soul.
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The ghost describes how Scrooge was a lonely kid, neglected by his friends and abandoned in childhood. At this, Scrooge shows some emotion cries, and he is similarly moved when reminded of his sister, his former employer Fezziwig, and his love Belle — who broke up with him due to his obsession with money. Reminded of his past, it is apparent Scrooge is starting to realize that it’s not only money which brings happiness. Now the ghost of Christmas present appears and Scrooge is taken by the ghost of Christmas present and shown people celebrating Christmas – including the Cratchit household. Scrooge sees Tiny Tim struggling and sees how the family are able to celebrate despite not having much money. Scrooge implores the ghost to tell him of the future. “Spirit, tell me if Tiny Tim will live” (Dickens 34). He genuinely seems to care about the little boy’s fate in contrast to his earlier comments about the poor and how if they died “it would decrease the surplus population” (Dickens 4).
His attitude is certainly changing. When visiting the house of his nephew Fred, Scrooge again is made to watch those appearing in the vision – who are enjoying the festivities without him. Here Scrooge gets a perspective on how his family views him as he is currently missing the Christmas party. There is hope however for Scrooge’s future, as it’s not too late for him to rejoin his family and celebrate Christmas for the first time in many years. The spirit of Christmas Present disappears quickly. The final spirit of Christmas Yet to Come finally appears as a shrouded figure as a personification of death. This spirit is to warn Scrooge that he’s facing a lonely end and further torment if he does not start thinking of others and caring for those around him. At first, this spirit shows Scrooge a group of people who were talking about a man’s death. “It’s likely to be a very cheap funeral, for upon my life I don’t know of anybody to go to it” (Dickens, 46).
At first Scrooge can’t work out which person has died, and he’s then taken to a group who has sorted through the dead person’s belongings, and the group again talk about the dead man in a very negative way – saying “He frightened everyone away from him when he was alive, to profit us when he was dead” (Dickens, 50) – they’ve even stolen the blankets Scrooge was due to be buried in. This is similar to the uncaring way in which Scrooge was shown to act towards others earlier. Scrooge does eventually realize that it’s the aftermath of his own death that he’s witnessing. “I see. The case of this unhappy man might be my own” (Dickens 51). He visits the Cratchits who are mourning the death of Tiny Tim, and then the spirit takes Scrooge to a church, and here he reads his own name on a gravestone and realizes the sad future that lies in wait for him if he refuses to change his ways. He vows to “honor christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The spirits of all three shall strive within me, I will not shut out the lessons that they teach” (Dickens 57), and at this point the ghost disappears and Scrooge is returned to bed. Scrooge then near the end of the musical describes himself in a much more positive way “I am as light as a feather. I am as happy as an angel, as merry as a school boy, as giddy as a drunken man” (Dickens 58).
Scrooge then arranges for a big turkey to be sent to the Cratchits and wishes others a Merry Christmas. He then goes to Fred’s house to celebrate Christmas with his family for a wonderful party. Already Scrooge is reaping the rewards of making an effort and being friendly to others. Those around him react very positively to Scrooge’s change in attitude. Finally, at the office the next morning, Scrooge gives Bob Cratchit a rise in wages and the final paragraphs of the musical confirm that Scrooge ii indeed a changed man. “Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more” (Dickens 66). Scrooge’s journey is complete and the reader is left with the understanding that people can change and society is a better place if we all look out for one another. This is supported by the transformation that Scrooge goes through as he meets the Christmas spirits of Past, Present, and Future, from which he learns the following: happiness does not come from money, Christmas is a time to be festive and joyous with those around you, and that a bleak future can only be changed if he acts in the present. Ultimately Scrooge’s redemption story is culminated with the line that says Scrooge was a second father to Tiny Tim, who did not die. The musical ends on a note that leaves the reader hopeful that even a mean old man like Ebenezer Scrooge can change their ways for the better. The final take away one might get from this is that people should live generously and selflessly to really live their life to the fullest.