Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Ebenezer Scrooge, a grasping, covetous, flinty old pinchpenny. With his pointed nose, shriveled cheeks, and stiff gait, he is repulsive to all his acquaintances. Drop by drop, he has squeezed all vestiges of humanity from his shriveled soul.
Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s destitute clerk. Although overworked and underpaid by Scrooge, Cratchit still retains his goodness and generosity.
Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit’s youngest son. Tiny Tim, crippled and frail, seems doomed to an early death unless there are improvements in the family fortunes. Weak in body but not in spirit, he does not die; instead, he lives to enjoy the generosity of a regenerated Ebenezer Scrooge.
The Ghost of Christmas Past
The Ghost of Christmas Past, With a strong beam of light streaming from his head, this is the first of three phantoms who are to attempt the difficult task of converting Scrooge.
The Ghost of Christmas Present
The Ghost of Christmas Present, A huge, jolly figure, this specter, bearing a glowing torch, takes Scrooge to many homes, among them Bob Cratchit’s.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, This is the most fearful sight of all. Shrouded in black, this ghost conducts Scrooge to many cheerless scenes, including a view of his own neglected...
(The entire section is 289 words.)
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Belle is Scrooge's old girlfriend. Years ago, she broke her relationship off with him because she felt that he had changed for the worse. In a vision of Christmas Past, Scrooge sees her married and surrounded with laughing, happy children who love her.
Cratchit is Scrooge's assistant, a loyal and diligent employee. After leaving the gloom of the Scrooge and Marley office on Christmas eve, Cratchit "went down a slide on Cornhill, at the end of a lane of boys, twenty times, in honour of its being Christmas eve, and then ran home to Camden Town as hard as he could pelt, to play at blindman's bluff." A child at heart, Cratchit truly enjoys carrying Tiny Tim around town, and is a loving family man.
Martha is the Cratchit family's oldest daughter.
Peter is Bob Cratchit's oldest son.
Tim (also known as Tiny Tim) is Bob Cratchit's youngest son. He is physically challenged, as he must use a crutch to get around. As a result, he is often carried from place to place by his father. Tiny Tim never complains about his handicap, and his emotional strength and positive attitude impress everyone around him. After being shown a version of the future in which Tiny Tim is dead, Scrooge vows to help the boy. In fact, Scrooge does donate money for Tiny Tim's medical...
(The entire section is 1026 words.)
Themes and Characters
Because A Christmas Carol is essentially a morality tale, its characters are only superficially developed so that the emphasis falls on the action and message of the story. But within this relatively narrow scope, Dickens presents several very memorable characters. Ebenezer Scrooge is at the center of the story, present either in the center of action or on the side as an observer in every scene. Dickens seems to delight in his satirical portrait of a greedy businessman. A comically grotesque character, Scrooge is a figure of fun because he completely changes before the story ends. The contrast between the grasping businessman of December 24 and the benign patron of the Cratchit family on December 25 amuses even Scrooge himself, who jokingly plays both bully and benefactor to Bob Cratchit when they return to work on the day after Christmas. The new Scrooge recovers a sense of humor along with his humanity.
Dickens renders another unforgettable, if flat, character in Jacob Marley's ghost. Ghosts who drag chains abound in folklore, but Marley's chain is an imaginative and fitting punishment for a life spent in selfish business transactions.
The three ghosts that proceed to visit Scrooge are unique allegorical figures. The Ghost of Christmas Past appears in the figure of a boy and of an old man almost simultaneously and represents all of Scrooge's past Christmases. The joy and bounty of the Christmas season characterize the Ghost of...
(The entire section is 514 words.)