Do you think Mr. Scrooge was inherently a good man or fear of hell made him change his ways?Please answer it within 100-125 words. And don't answer it too briefly.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a very powerful question.  I think it strikes at the heart of what motivates people.  While he might not have intended it, the question brings out whether or not Dickens believes in the inherent goodness of people or whether it is the fear of punishment that compels change.  Given Dickens' nature, the answer is probably a bit of both.  I think that Scrooge is fearful of the vision that is given to him.  It is one that strikes a level of discomfort in how he has carried on his life and how it needs to change.  While he was motivated by the realization of how bad things could get, it was a realization and I believe that he should possess some credit for embracing it.  The ending of the novella is a redemptive one, where Scrooge goes above and beyond to prove his understanding learned and, in the process, reveal a part of himself that has emerged.  I think that this realization ends up allowing Scrooge's goodness to embrace both an intrinsic quality and a fear of punishment.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, you cannot literally say that fear of Hell made him change his ways.  The reason that I say this is that he was not shown himself in Hell after his death.  He sees how sad his life is and he is shown how his ways have bad effects on other people.  But he is not shown any punishments in the next world.  So I do not believe that he changes out of fear of punishment.

I think that he must inherently be somewhat good.  Otherwise, he would not be affected by the visions he had seen.  If he were really bad, he would just see the visions and say "I like my life and I don't care if I'm alone and people don't like me."

So I think that he is mostly a good person and is certainly not changing out of fear of punishment in the hereafter.

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think he was inherently a good person.  It is apparent from the visions he is shown, particularly those of Christmas Past where he gets to see the good times he had before he became such a stingy miser and there were people that he made happy, people he cared about and he did a good job of making them feel good.

The things that he sees help to remind him of this goodness and I think it is more out of regret than a fear for the future that he decides to change his ways and start being more generous.  Of course he was terrified of the vision of the future, but the joy with which he decides to change suggest a positive motivation rather than a fearful one.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Ebenezer Scrooge was inherently good. He had a rough childhood so he started out on a bad foot. He had a lot of hurt feelings and I think he just eventually became cold.

The visits from the ghosts in the story only remind him of things that he hadn't previously realized. He missed out on years of good times with friends and family members who truly cared about him and I think he realized this by the end of the story.

I think he was really always a kind person on some level, he was just too scared to let anyone in and get close to him.

juliemartin843 | Student

I think that he was ingerently a good person, although I do not think that the fear of hell is what made him change.

I do think that it did bother him a little, but I believe when he saw all of the visions it taught him a lot. I believe that his heart had grown so cold, and that he had shut the world out so much that he was not aware of all of his actions.

He was not aware that he was hurting people that bad, though the visions helped him become aware.

He was quite rude, but he made changes in his life, because it's never too late to do that. He knew that he needed to make changed, which meant that he did have a heart to begin with, it was just small and cold.

dafe | Student

As in the begining we saw his rude nature , & on the christmas he turned children singing carol, i don't think he was good. But after three ghosts appeared to him first of christmas past who showed him all past & he felt ashamed on seeing his past . Second of christmas present showed him what's happening and on seeing this he felt guilty for turning the boys on the auspicious day of christmas singing carol song . But when he saw his dead body lying alone & no one was there & people were cursing him for his selfishness ,on seeing all this from the third ghost of christmas which was yet to come,he was scared . So it is proved only due to fear he was changed & this was the only reason for the redemption of his heart.

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A Christmas Carol

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