How does Charles Dickens reveal the character of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like most good characterization, Dickens uses a combination of direct and indirect characterization to build Scrooge's character.  Direct characterization is when the author/narrator explicitly tells readers what a character is like.  Generally, physical descriptions are handled this way, but Dickens uses some direct characterization early on to tell readers that Scrooge is a hardened and miserly person. 

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.

The above also tells readers that Scrooge is a man that is alone more often than not.  

What makes Scrooge such a fun character to read is that Dickens further deepens this direct characterization by lots of great indirect characterization.  Indirect characterization consists of the author showing readers what kind of person a character is through the character’s thoughts, words, and deeds.  Dickens doesn't really have to tell us that Scrooge is a hard, rude, miserly fellow that hates Christmas and is perfectly content voicing his opinion about it. Scrooge does that just fine on his own.   

What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in ’em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could work my will,” said Scrooge indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!”

Scrooge doesn't care about the needs of others, and readers can see this through his interaction with the men that are hoping to get a donation from Scrooge. 

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and 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.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

bookworm4u | Student

     Dickens reveals the character of Scrooge with overwhelming contrast to the other

characters in the opening scene. "Cold", is a fitting metaphor for Scrooge.  The setting

is dark, dreary and foggy; placing our main character in a well-suited atmosphere.  As

Scrooge's nephew enters, the warmth of his friendly and kind heart seems to light

the room.  Scrooge instantly reacts to this cheery disposition as though the

nephew hasn't reason for cheerfulness, he's poor and married. Here the nephew replies

that wealth has not made Scrooge happy. It's obvious with the rejection of his nephew's

Christmas dinner invitation, Scrooge is a loner.  Scrooge confirms his nephew is

married and uses this excuse for declining. He hasn't had past relations and won't

pursue future relations with his nephew. He has one employee, who he allows one piece

of coal for warmth. The coal a metaphor to Scrooges heart - cold, black, and stingy with

just a spark keeping it burning. 




Read the study guide:
A Christmas Carol

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