How did Charles Dickens develop the relationship between Scrooge and Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol?
Dickens begins A Christmas Carol by introducing the reader to Ebenezer Scrooge and quickly conveys the type of individual Scrooge is - "A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!"
While not giving a direct description of Bob Cratchit for some time, Dickens clearly implies the way in which Scrooge's personality shapes the relationship between the two. Scrooge tolerates no waste of anything and defines waste as meaning anything above the barest minimum. Therefore, Scrooge isn't inclined to permit Cratchit to indulge in luxuries like adequate coal for the fire. "Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk's fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal."
In the same way, Scrooge disliked being forced to give Cratchit a full day away from work, but with pay even though no work was done, in recognition of Christmas. Scrooge considered it highly unfair that he didn't have use of his employee for every minute of time for which he was paying.
"It's not convenient," said Scrooge, "and it's not fair. If I was to stop half a crown for it, you'd think yourself ill-used, I'll be bound?...And yet...you don't think me ill-used, when I pay a day's wages for no work...A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of December!...But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning."
Scrooge didn't want to relate to Cratchit. He wanted Cratchit to do his work quietly and cheaply.
Dickens also develops the relationship between Scrooge and Bob Cratchit through his glimpses into the present and the future.
Through the Ghost of Christmas Present, for example, Scrooge learns intimate details about Bob Cratchit and his family. Specifically, he becomes acquainted with Tiny Tim, Bob's son, who still manages to exhibit Christmas cheer and goodwill to all men, despite his life-limiting illness.
Similarly, through the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Scrooge is shown the devastation caused to the family by Tiny Tim's death. Bob, in particular, is completely destroyed by his son's death but musters on, determined to stay as cheerful and kind as his son.
Through these glimpses, Scrooge sees a part of Cratchit's life that he has never seen before. He sees the reality of poverty and hardship and, more importantly, comes to realize that poverty is not a lifestyle choice, but a consequence of industrial life.
By presenting Cratchit in this way, Dickens transforms the relationship between Bob and Scrooge.