How does Charles Dickens make a statement about the social conditions of Victorian England in A Christmas Carol?

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mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout A Christmas Carol, Dickens shows examples of poverty in England.  Below are three examples from the story.

On Christmas Eve Day, two gentlemen enter Scrooge's counting house to ask for donations for the poor.  Scrooge regards their request with disgust and disinterest.  Scrooge asks them if there are still prisons and workhouses.  One of the men replies that yes, those places are still there.  He explains that  "many would rather die" than go to those places.  Scrooge replies that "'if they would rather die,... they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.'"  In Victorian England, the poorest of the poor often had to live in debtor's prisons or workhouses.  The conditions in those places were often terrible.  

Dickens shows the conditions of the working poor with Bob Cratchit and his family.  He and his family live in a simple home.  Bob is paid only fifteen shillings per week for all his work and has to support a wife and family of six children.  His eldest daughter, Martha, also has a job to help support the family.  Bob himself is described as wearing "threadbare clothes."  

Later, the Ghost of Christmas Present opens his robes to show Scrooge two children.  These skinny, ragged children represent Want and Ignorance.  The boy and girl are "yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, [and] wolfish."  They represent the poverty that surrounds Scrooge, which he ignores.

 

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A Christmas Carol

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