illustration of Ebenezer Scrooge in silhouette walking toward a Christmas tree and followed by the three ghosts

A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens

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How is redemption explored in A Christmas Carol?

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Scrooge redeems himself from a life of miserly selfishness by repenting of his past actions after being shown scenes of his younger life, his present life, and his future by the ghosts that visit him on Christmas Eve.

Because he is so sorry for how he lived, he is determined to change. When he wakes up Christmas morning, he is very grateful to be alive and to have a chance to make up for all his former greed. He redeems himself by immediately engaging in acts of generosity.

He also redeems himself with a change in attitude. Instead of being rude and cold to the people around him, he treats them with good cheer and happiness. He also reaches out and becomes social. For instance, he shows up at his nephew's house for Christmas dinner.

Dickens shows at the end of his book that redemption brings joy to the redeemed person. Scrooge's new life of generosity not only benefits those around him by making their lives happier and easier, but he himself becomes an individual who is joyful, contented, and fulfilled. In other words, Dickens illustrates that behaving in an openhanded and kindhearted way to those around us is a "win-win" situation that perhaps rewards the giver even more than the recipient.

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Ebenezer Scrooge experiences redemption near the end of A Christmas Carol.  First, Scrooge visits his past and sees where his choices have led him.  Then he sees life in the present and the impact of his choices on the people in his life.  Last, Scrooge sees what will happen in the future if he does not change.  He realizes that he will die without anyone mourning and that he will leave no legacy on the world if he does not change.  He begs the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come to give him a second chance.  He promises that he will learn from his experiences and honor Christmas.  Scrooge is given a second chance when he wakes up on Christmas morning.  He experiences redemption and changes his life for the better.

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The famous novella A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens tells of a cold-hearted miser named Ebenezer Scrooge, who dislikes Christmas and refuses to socialize during the holiday. On Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghost of his deceased partner, Jacob Marley, who tells him that the only way to save himself from a dreadful afterlife bound by heavy chains forged by his greed is to heed the messages of three spirits that will visit him. These spirits—the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come—show Scrooge images from his childhood and youth, Christmas celebrations of those related to or associated with him, and a Christmas day in the future after he has died. Through it all, Scrooge comes to realize that he needs to change his ways, and he becomes much more kind and generous.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the word "redemption" means "the state of being kept from evil or of improving morally." The Oxford Learner's Dictionary defines "redemption" as "the act of saving or the state of being saved from the power of evil."

In A Christmas Carol, Dickens explores the theme of redemption through the character of Scrooge. In the beginning, he is selfish and miserly. Scrooge undergoes profound trauma as the ghosts reveal to him important scenes from past, present, and future Christmases. He grasps the lessons he is supposed to learn, and as a result, he is redeemed from his punishment and becomes a much better person. We can see, then, that A Christmas Carol is a classic and effective exploration of the theme of redemption.

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Having lost love in his youth, Ebenezer Scrooge has become a miser of his gold and of his heart. Because he did not have the security of a loving family, the boy Ebenezer grew into a young man who found reward in making money; greed has become his passion. In Stave II, the Ghost of Christmas Past presents Scrooge with the vision of himself in the prime of his life as a pretty woman in a mourning dress tells him that the death she so sorely feels matters little to him,

"It matters little....To you, very little. Another idol has displaced me: and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve."

The "golden one" is the idol which has replaced Belle. Much like Eliot's Silas Marner, Ebenezer finds in gold the comfort and security he has lacked from others. But, in his fixation upon making money, Ebenezer has lost sight of the worthy young woman's love.  Belle leaves him, saying,

"You fear the world too much…. All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of its sordid reproach."

But, Scrooge has become a lonely miser and is, indeed, reproached by the world as he comes to realize during his journey with the spirits of Christmas. For, his is an unprofitable dream because there is no one with whom he can share life. The Spirits of Christmas Past and Christmas Present show Scrooge the rewards of kindness and of love with the visions of his nephew Fred and friends enjoying Christmas and the tender and loving moments of the poor Crachits, who enjoy their holiday as much as if they were rich. Finally, when the Spirit of Christmas Future presents Scrooge with the vision of his dead body, cold and alone, Ebenezer has an awakening to the true meaning of life:  It depends upon sharing.  Nothing is worthwhile unless he can share his feelings with others.

Having thus learned that his parsimony is a path to a cold, lonely death without rewards, Ebenezer Scrooge redeems his soul by becoming the antithesis of what he has been. He socializes, visiting with people on the street--Scrooge regarded everyone with a delightful smile"; moreover, he generously purchases a wonderful goose for the Crachits, and he decides to have diner after all with Fred and his wife and friends.  And, when Bob Crachit returns to work late the next day, instead of berating him, Scrooge gives Crachit a raise and promises to help his struggling family. "His own heart laughed:  and that was quite enough for him" as he becomes a second father to Tiny Tim. Truly, Scrooge has discovered the redemptive power of love.

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