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A Christmas Carol is Dickens’s most severe book. He has a strong message to say about Victorian society. He believed that people were ignoring the plight of the poor, and industrialization and financial gain became the only important things. He was right, and his book actually had an impact. It was instrumental in bringing about change to England’s dreaded Poor Law, a highly abusive system of dealing with the poor.
To me, these are the key passages that highlight this. First of all, this one from Stave 3.
“Man,” said the Ghost, “if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man's child. Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!” (enotes etext p. 34)
To me, this speech from the Ghost of Christmas Present is one of the most scathing indictments of the Victorian Era. Another poignant example is his description of Ignorance and Want. Scrooge sees two miserable-looking children and asks who they belong to?
“They are Man's,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree; but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And bide the end!” (p. 40)
Dickens is trying to point out to his fellow Victorians that the poor, especially children, are everyone’s responsibility. He was a tireless champion for the poor and downtrodden.
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