How does the Ghost of Christmas Present help Scrooge become a better person in A Christmas Carol?

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When A Christmas Carol begins, Scrooge is defined largely in terms of his misanthropy, and this entire book follows a series of supernatural encounters which remake him as a more empathetic and generous human being. Those encounters actually work in tandem with one another, beginning with the warning represented by...

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When A Christmas Carol begins, Scrooge is defined largely in terms of his misanthropy, and this entire book follows a series of supernatural encounters which remake him as a more empathetic and generous human being. Those encounters actually work in tandem with one another, beginning with the warning represented by his old business partner, Marley, before culminating with the final ghost (who offers a warning of Scrooge's mortality and the dismal legacy he'll leave behind).

With that in mind, Scrooge's encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Present is a deeply important one (though the same can be said of each of these encounters), building off the earlier intervention represented by the Ghost of Christmas Past, while setting up that final moment of transformation still to come.

Already, even before stave three begins, Scrooge is on the path towards becoming a better person. In stave two, in his encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Past, he begins to experience regret, and the Ghost of Christmas Present continues to build on that earlier breakthrough. The ghost takes him to observe the Cratchit household and later to observe the Christmas festivities of his nephew, Fred, along with various other scenes in which (despite often living in conditions of poverty) people are sharing in a richness of life that contrasts sharply with Scrooge's own lonely misery.

At the same time, the ghost does not shy away from reminding Scrooge of his own previous misanthropy. When Scrooge worries over what will become of Tiny Tim, for example, the ghost replies: "If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population" (Dickens, A Christmas Carol, stave III), returning Scrooge's previous sentiments back at Scrooge. Later on, he will recycle Scrooge's earlier comments concerning prisons and workhouses, again to engender shame.

In this encounter, the ghost shows Scrooge just how empty his life has become, and that revelation is certainly having an effect on Scrooge himself. This journey is not yet finished, but this represents another key step in his path.

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The Ghost of Christmas Present helps Scrooge become a better person by showing him people who get more out of life than he does.

Scrooge is a lonely, miserable man.  He has no one in his life because he has pushed them all away.  His only friend, his partner Jacob, died on Christmas Eve seven years before the book begins.  He decides to give Scrooge an opportunity to become a better person.   The first ghost shows Scrooge how to get in touch with his emotions by reminding him that he hasn’t always been this way.  He used to have people who cared about him.  The second ghost shows Scrooge how he affects others.

Scrooge sees many people celebrating Christmas and enjoying themselves, whatever the circumstances, when he is with the Ghost of Christmas Present.  However, it is his glimpses of the Cratchit family and Fred celebrating that really reach him.  Scrooge realizes that he could have people in his life if he wanted them.

Scrooge is very impressed with Tiny Tim.  Scrooge has been reminded of the innocence of children while with Christmas Past, and he feels kindly disposed toward the boy.  He asks the Ghost what his fate will be, even though in the beginning he said it didn’t matter if the poor died because they would “decrease the surplus population” (Stave 1).

“Spirit,” said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, “tell me if Tiny Tim will live.”

“… If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die.”

“No, no,” said Scrooge. “Oh, no, kind Spirit! say he will be spared.” (Stave 3) 

This exchange shows that Scrooge has already grown attached to the Cratchits, and Tim in particular.  He feels sorry for Tiny Tim, and this is one of the ways that we can see he is changing.  The Ghost later shows him two children, Ignorance and Want, and Scrooge asks him who takes care of them.  The Ghost tells him that all of mankind is responsible for them, throwing Scrooge’s words about the surplus population back at him.

When Scrooge sees Fred’s family, he is seeing a life that he could be a part of.  Scrooge has always acted under the assumption that he is alone and always will be alone.  Now he realizes that family is fun.  Scrooge enjoys the games, and acts as if he is there at the party with his nephew and his guests.  He regrets not having gone when invited.

“Do go on, Fred,” said Scrooge’s niece, clapping her hands. “He never finishes what he begins to say! He is such a ridiculous fellow!”

Scrooge’s nephew revelled in another laugh, and as it was impossible to keep the infection off; though the plump sister tried hard to do it with aromatic vinegar; his example was unanimously followed. (Stave 3) 

The Cratchits made Scrooge realize how nice it would be to have a family, and Fred made him realize that he had one.  By taking him to both of these places, the Ghost of Christmas Present is reminding Scrooge that he does influence the lives of others and he has people in his life already.  These are people who have a good time, and he would have a good time too if he joined them.  He can slip into their lives easily, if he would just try.

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