In Stave 3, "The Second of Three Spirits," of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present have just left a children's Twelfth Night party—which signifies the end of the twelve-day Christmas season of the Victorian period—when Scrooge notices two things about the Spirit. The first is that the Spirit has aged noticeably in the few hours that they've been together. "Are spirits’ lives so short?” Scrooge inquires of the Spirit. The Spirit responds that his life on earth is very short. “It ends to-night... at midnight,” the Spirit says, barely fifteen minutes from that moment.
The second thing that Scrooge notices about the Spirit is what Scrooge describes as "a foot or a claw" protruding from underneath the Spirit's robe. The Spirit opens his robe to reveal two wretched children, a boy and a girl. The Spirit identifies the boy as "Ignorance" and the girl as "Want," or poverty.
The children kneel down at the Spirit's feet, clutching at his robe while the Spirit reproaches mankind—represented by Scrooge himself—and most particularly Victorian society and its upper classes for allowing creatures such as these to exist.
The Spirit metaphorically compares the boy, Ignorance, to the "Doom" that he warns Scrooge awaits Victorian society and mankind if widespread ignorance isn't addressed and corrected.
Throughout his adult life, Dickens advocated for social reforms, including universal education, aid for the poor, the repeal of the Poor Laws, and the elimination of debtor's prisons, treadmills, and workhouses. Dickens used his novels, stories, and other writings to forward his progressive social agenda.
In A Christmas Carol, for example, Dickens directly addresses all of these issues and takes the Victorian upper classes to task for their inaction and their lack of will to initiate and support reforms to eliminate or, at the very least, reduce social injustice, particularly the ignorance and poverty so prevalent in Victorian society at the time Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol.