illustration of Ebenezer Scrooge in silhouette walking toward a Christmas tree and followed by the three ghosts

A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens
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Compare and contrast Fezziwig and Scrooge as bosses.

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Fezziwig and Scrooge are complete opposites as bosses. Scrooge is a miserly, misanthropic loner, described as follows:

Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.

We learn that his clerk, Bob Cratchit, literally has a small fire, perhaps of one coal, and doesn't dare ask for more because he knows Scrooge will threaten to fire him if he does. Cratchit huddles in his comforter and tries to warm himself with his candle. Scrooge even begrudges him the day off for Christmas, saying that because he has to pay him for it anyway, it is a way of picking his pocket. Scrooge gives no Christmas party or Christmas treat. He doesn't even offer well wishes to Cratchit.

In constrast, when the Ghost of Christmas Past transports Scrooge back in time, Scrooge witnesses the joyful Christmas merriment Fezziwig has arranged. Fezziwig invites all his employees to a Christmas dance, replete with food, drink, warmth, and cheerful spirits. He is a generous, thoughtful, outgoing soul who takes time to consider the needs of others. As Scrooge ruminates, unwittingly condemning himself:

He [Fezziwig] has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count 'em up: what then? The happiness he gives is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.

As Scrooge is reintroduced to his past, the contrast between his own behavior to his clerk and Fezziwig's to his employees becomes painfully obvious.

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Fezziwig is the old boss of Scrooge who he sees again thanks to the Ghost of Christmas Past, when he travels back in time to when he was Fezziwig's apprentice. Dickens introduces Fezziwig to act as a foil to Scrooge. The beginning of the story has introduced how parsimonious and miserly he is, and how focused on his money that he regrets having to give his employees a day off. Fezziwig, by contrast, is presented as a successful businessman who is beneficient and generous with his material possessions in the way that he throws a Christmas party and joyfully celebrates the season with his employees, family, and other clients. The "domestic ball" that is described features warmth, kindness and love in a way that contrasts completely with the cold, grim office where Scrooge works in the present. This is a party that all and sundry are welcomed to and where all are treated just the same, as the ending of the party shows:

Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side of the door, and shaking hands with every person individually as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas. When everybody had retired by thte two 'prentices, they did the same to them...

Even though Scrooge and his fellow apprentice were very low on the social ladder, they were not excluded from the Fezziwig's Christmas merriment, and were treated with just the same kindness and respect. Fezziwig is a character who Dickens therefore uses as a foil to highlight Scrooge's greed and avarice.

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