Atmosphere and suspense - Sample Essay
This conveys richly with the spirit and meaning of Christmas that Dickens is attempting to put forward in his moral message, through the use of this atmosphere. He is expressing that Christmas time is a time for sharing and spending time with your family and friends, which is reflected in Scrooge’s youth, but contrasts with Scrooge’s life at present. Therefore, this makes Scrooge, due to the ‘Ghost of Christmas Past’, think more about how he is acting at the present, where he is anti-social and refuses to acknowledge that he has to be sharing and caring during Christmas time.
As well as successfully creating, building, and developing atmospheres to develop a moral message in chapter two, Dickens uses suspense in chapter 4 to try and make the effect of the moral message more powerful to the reader by using a darker theme. Dickens creates a spookier and sinister atmosphere straight away at the start of chapter four, and he does this so the reader can then appreciate the suspense. Dickens does this because he intends the reader to get gripped into the darker theme and storyline, and as said above, this makes the moral message more influential to the reader.
For instance, he does this at the start of chapter four, when Dickens describes the entrance of the ‘Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come’ as he writes: “The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. The very air through which this Spirit moved seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. ” This creates sudden suspense and it also creates a dark theme to lay the foundations for this chapter. Then, Dickens creates more suspense by not making the ghost/phantom talk.
By doing this, Dickens is deliberately developing suspense by leaving the reader in the unknown, and is equally implying by this that everyone is going to die at some point, due to the dark theme and the places this ghost takes Scrooge to. In addition, making the ghost just use its hands to guide the way for Scrooge makes him as a result become more timorous and this adds to the suspense and atmosphere. Dickens uses even more clever techniques to draw the reader’s attention and make them even more aware of the moral message.
He writes: “`It’s likely to be a very cheap funeral,’ said the same speaker;’ for upon my life I don’t know of anybody to go to it. Suppose we make up a party and volunteer. ‘ `I don’t mind going if a lunch is provided,’ observed the gentleman with the excrescence on his nose. `But I must be fed, if I make one. ‘” The man’s attitude here is that he does not take Scrooge’s death seriously and is using it as an opportunity to make a joke out of. Dickens uses powerful dramatic irony as the reader knows that those people were talking about Scrooge, however, Scrooge is not aware of this until later.
Dickens does this appropriately in the light of the darker theme, because he intends to again powerfully convey his moral message to the reader, and because he portrays those people to be talking carelessly about Scrooge, and approaching his death with a considerable amount of blasi?? , he hopes to indirectly tell the reader that if you spend your life keeping all your riches to yourself and not being generous and kind-hearted, nobody will care about you and show respect for you when you are dead. – Scrooge is used as an example to what the fate is of those who do not follow Dickens’ moral message.
Another example of suspense and atmosphere revealing this moral message is when ‘old Joe’ and ‘Mrs Dilber’ are pictured having stolen a bundle of Scrooge’s possessions and are looking through them. Dickens builds on the uncanny atmosphere and theme he has created in chapter four, and writes about more people talking indifferently about Scrooge’s death: “`If he wanted to keep them after he was dead, a wicked old screw,’ pursued the woman,’ why wasn’t he natural in his lifetime. If he had been, he’d have had somebody to look after him when he was struck with Death, instead of lying gasping out his last there, alone by himself.
‘” This later extract ceases to be dramatic irony once Scrooge has found out that these people had been talking about his death, and therefore it plays an important part in the development of Scrooge’s characterisation, because after having seen the consequences of his unkind and selfish behaviour with all three ghosts, his reactions to this dialogue suggest that he wants to change his character, and this is confirmed soon after when he wakes up in chapter five, and greets everyone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in the street..
In conclusion, it would be fair and accurate to say that this novel was written solely for the purpose of getting the people of Victorian Britain to change their attitudes towards the ‘deserving’ and the ‘undeserving poor’, through the use of haunting and ghosts. It was intended to deliver its moral message through the use of atmosphere and suspense, and to convey this message through varying themes.
On the whole I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel, especially chapter two whilst looking through Scrooge’s past, as it reveals a lot of what his true inner personality is, regardless of what his spiteful character is described as in chapter one. I also like this novel as it has a fitting end regarding the moral message, which is, in this case, we all have the possibility to change our personality for the good.
My opinion is that Dickens without a doubt achieves all his intentions with the successful use of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come being the key in Scrooge’s characterisation and Dickens’ utter proficiency in the art of the English language enables us to depict his novel as a fine one. And, as for Scrooge’s journey, it is a lesson to be learnt from by all of us, in any era.