Victorian life - Sample Essay
What picture of Victorian life is created in the novel in ‘A Christmas Carol’? There are many pictures that ‘A Christmas Carol’ creates and in this essay I will show you all of them. This novella explores the many diverse types of life in the harsh Victorian era. From the Rich cruel citizens to the poor of poor like the Cratchit family. One of the pictures portrayed in the novella is the fact that many rich upper class gentlemen were not actually gentle men; in fact they could be quite the opposite.
He portrays the typically attitudes of these upper class people in the Victorian era by creating Ebenezer Scrooge. Ebenezer Scrooge is the focus point of this book because Charles Dickens was tried to get across the fact that Victorian upper class gentlemen were not nice to each other and did not help the community enough, and only thought of themselves. This was exactly what Ebenezer Scrooge was all of those characteristics and harsher. At the start of the novella we encounter a description of Scrooge before he encounters the spirits.
In the book it even calls him a ‘sinner’. Scrooge is very cruel and self-centred, we see this in the book when Bob Cratchit has to make a fire to warm himself with only on block of charcoal which does not make that much of a difference when it is below 0`C, but as Scrooge was so self centred and was so mad about money he did not think that Bob Cratchit was cold all he could think of was about how much money Bob was wasting on that one piece of coal.
Another Example of how Ebenezer Scrooge was thoughtless of how other people felt was when he had a conversation with two portly gentlemen about provisions for the poor and destitute, During this conversation Scrooge asked if there were no other places for these people to go, for example he wondered if there were no prisons open for them to go in, this an example of how he thought.
No good then just send them to a prison or a treadmill; he did not think for a second that the places there would have been so harsh and cruel that they would end up dying there, an example of how he thought. If they are no good then just send them to a prison or a treadmill, he did not think for a second that the places there would have been so harsh and cruel that they would end up dying there.
The famous quote made by Ebenezer Scrooge after he was the fact that many could not go to places like prisons and treadmills and they would rather die was, ‘If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. ‘ This is a prime example of the fact that Ebenezer Scrooge did see people as having feeling, all he saw were figures and did not care if 100 000 people died, he saw death as a credit to society, less people means that there was more money, jobs and more space.
All this is changed when Ebenezer Scrooge ‘is made to question his attitude by the intercourse with spirits’. Ebenezer is a changed man on Christmas day, he was horrid and cruel but when he changed he happy and generous, an example of this was when he went into work early and Bob Cratchit was late, instead of shouting him like he usually did he gave him a raise, instead of giving him one piece of coal he told Bob to go and buy a bag and a new shovel and to discuss his future over a hot lunch. This was a very big change because you cold see it on Bob’s face, he was shocked.
Another example of this sense of shock was in Ebenezer Scrooge’s maid, she had always known to be a cold hearted, malicious old man who did not like Christmas, but there he was skipping around and saying merry Christmas as if he was trying to make for all the years he had missed without Christmas. I think you would feel a bit scared if you were the maid. This just shows you just how much Ebenezer scrooge had changed and what a difference it would make if all the people on the world had the same.
Another picture which is created by the novella is the working class hardships, in the novella this class is portrayed in the form of the Cratchit family. The Cratchit family consisted of eight people. Eight people is a lot of children, families were very large because there were no artificial man made contraception so fertilization was very common, another reason is that with more children you can sent them to work and get more money. Living conditions were not great; they had a small house and did not even have a cooker to cook the goose on Christmas day, so they had to send it next door to the Bakers.
They had a small house because they could not afford a big house unlike Mr Scrooge. They had a fire which had to heat the whole house; it was still cold unless you went right up lose to the fire. The Cratchits did not have the money to go and buy new clothes but they still tried to make Christmas a special occasion for the whole family. They turned their clothes inside out and used ribbons to decorate themselves. It was a very cheap way of making yourself look good and you have to give credit to the Cratchits for trying so hard.
Their attitude about Christmas was the opposite of what Ebenezer Scrooge thought about Christmas, they longed for Christmas every year whereas Ebenezer scrooge did not consider Christmas to exist. Christmas was one of the main priorities of the Cratchits, even though they had little they made a lot out of what they had. The Cratchit family had a problem which was out of their reach, Tiny Tim had a disease which was curable even in those days, the only problem was that it cost too much. Tiny Tim’s disease was a defect in the liver; this meant that Tiny Tim’s blood was not being thinned enough.
Fortunately Tiny Tim was saved by Ebenezer Scrooge when he came to his senses and saw what was really going on other than his money. Thousands of children like Tiny Tim died from such minor diseases because although there were cures for these minor diseases, the reason being the money factor. Martha, Bob and Peter Cratchit had jobs so that they could support the family financially. Bob was Ebenezer Scrooge’s Clerk and got very little pay for 14 years until the Christmas that Ebenezer Scrooge got transformed, that was the first raise in pay that Bob got from Ebenezer Scrooge and not the last.
Martha worked in a textile factory, she did not get a lot of money either because there were so many people for the bosses to choose from they could pick a price and you have to either take it or leave it. Most people had to take it even though it was such low pay. Peter Cratchit also had a job with Ebenezer Scrooge; he was a delivery boy for Scrooge and did not get a great salary either. Ebenezer Scrooge showed the power the boss had over the employees when one morning he asked Peter how much he was paying him, Peter answered 7 shillings, Ebenezer said, ‘You start on Monday at 5 shillings.
‘ There was nothing Peter could do but accept with a smile because Peter needed the money how ever little it is. The third class that we encounter in the novella is the middle class, in the form of Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew, Fred. We meet Fred in the early stages of the novella when Ebenezer Scrooge is still a horrid grumpy old man. Fred is very happy to see Ebenezer Scrooge but Ebenezer Scrooge does no return the gesture. Fred has come to personally invite his uncle to a Christmas party at his house but Ebenezer Scrooge declines as back then he did not believe in Christmas.
The middle class back then is roughly the same today; it is the group between the super rich and the super poor. This was one of the smaller classes. We are not told what Fred does but it was probably a good job in an office because he would not have been working in a factory nor washing windows. The novella also pictures Victorian life as very traditional, for example in the Victorian days family gatherings were very important and an example of this was the disappointment of Bob Cratchit when Martha joked that Belinda Cratchit could not attend the Christmas lunch.
The games they played back then were also very basic and did not require many things. For example at Fred’s house me see that their game that they play was ‘Blind Man’s Bluff’ , all you needed for this game was people, a piece of clothe and the lights dimmed. In Conclusion I think that Charles Dickens had achieved his aim of making people more aware of the fact that everyone needs to nice to people and everyone in turn becomes happier therefore making it a happier place to live.