In A Christmas Carol, what does this quote mean: “I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned—they cost enough; and those who are badly...

In A Christmas Carol, what does this quote mean: “I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned—they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.” (Dickens 16)?

Expert Answers
mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The quote from A Christmas Carol is a typical answer from Ebenezer Scrooge.  He is saying that he will not contribute money or anything else to help individuals in need in his community.  He does help support the large establishments such as jails or the poor houses for those who cannot pay their debts, which costs him a lot of money.  Then he explains his true attitude by saying that those who cannot support their families or are "badly off" for whatever reason should go to the poor house.   This quote shows the tight with his money Scrooge who sees no obligation to help his fellow citizens when they are in need.

This quote clearly delineates Scrooge at his worst--his lack of mercy for those who need help while he hangs onto every penny he can. This shows why Scrooge will be visited in the night to change his ways while he still can.  The reason this play has resonated with people for many years is that this is a lesson we all need to learn or be reminded of--that those of us more fortunate need to help those less fortunate instead of thinking only of ourselves.

 

 

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A Christmas Carol

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