How is Scrooge's character shaped by conflict?

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fezziwig eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The conflict that shapes Scrooge's character is internal; what this means is that Scrooge is actually fighting himself. Scrooge has been suffering psychologically for years from the abuse of neglect he received as a child when he was left alone during Christmas at the boarding school. This moment in his life causes Scrooge to slowly hate Christmas and mankind, and as a result he becomes London's worst misanthrope.

However, another conflict manifests itself on that Christmas eve when the do-gooders stop by to ask Scrooge for a donation for charity, but before they do, they mention Marley's name. The mention of Marley's name triggers Scrooge's memory of friendship, love and benevolence, which Scrooge has been suppressing for years, but now he has to confront them, and confront them he does.

The conflict intensifies when Marley's spirit arrives at his own home to warn Scrooge of his demise if he does not heed his warning and accept the three ghosts. Scrooge's conflict here is in accepting this revelation, for at first he doesn't believe that Marley is real, for he thinks that Marley is "an undigested bit of beef; a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. In other words, Scrooge is trying to convince himself that he is suffering from indigestion. Obviously Scrooge is fighting the truth of the matter, and the truth is that Scrooge has been fighting himself to not love mankind, Christmas or himself.

But in this conflict he begins to change, for he accepts Marley's warning, and waits, in anticipation, for the three spirits that he must face in order to be saved.

Scrooge's encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Past reveals Scrooge's Christmas past and it isn't pleasant. Although Scrooge is somewhat resistant to seeing this past, he examines it, and in accepting what happened to him back then, he begins to give in to the good in his soul, for when he sees himself as a very young boy all alone at this boarding school, he sheds a tear; this tear symbolizes the return of warmth and sympathy in Scrooge's cold heart; the ice around his heart is melting, and Scrooge is beginning to resurrect.

But the conflict doesn't end here, for when he meets the Ghost of Christmas Present, he has to face the realities of the life that he has created for the Cratchit, for Bob Cratchit is his employee, and the wages that Scrooge has been paying Cratchit are very pitiful, so pitiful that he cannot afford proper medical attention for his son, Tiny Tim. Seeing this causes Scrooge to become even more compassionate, for in Tiny tim, Scrooge must have seen himself. This conflict that Scrooge faces in witnessing the Cratchits has a tremendous effect on his character.

The last conflict that Scrooge faces is his own death, which the Ghost of Christmas Future reveals to SCrooge; it is this conflict that ultimately changes Scrooge's character, for when he sees that no one is affected by his death, that no one shows any compassion for him, and when he stands before his very own grave, he falls to his knees and begs for mercy and forgiveness for his misanthropic ways.

Scrooge's metamorphosis is a direct result of the enormous internal conflict that he has been confronting for years, but on this fateful Christmas eve he succumbs to that conflict; the good in Scrooge final over comes the evil in him.


coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scrooge's character is shaped by the conditioning he experienced as a young child, as our characters as humans always are. Charles Dickens, in the short novella 'A Christmas Carol' was an expert observer and recorder of human personality and psychology, as he was in all his writings. How well he knew that as humans each of us carries different baggage comprising our early family, emotional, career and relationship history. We all respond to the new situations we meet by referencing our negative and positive experiences from the past, whether that means bitterness, guilt, resentment and suspicion or optimism and joy. Sadly, in Scrooge's case, he learnt early on that he should never open up, never trust, never give anything of himself and protect his damaged feelings by building a wall of callousness around himself. He suffered so everyone else should too. The conflict probably began in his childhood where he learned to deal with the fact that his feelings didn't matter to anyone and that his emotional needs would never be met. That early conflict results later in his life in another powerful conflict when the wall has to come down and he has to survey the damage his  narrow self-protection has caused. His heartlessness has now even become a personality label in  itself:

ik9744 | Student

At first he had a hatred heart. No one really liked him except for a few people. He would not help anyone and wanted to be left alone. After the ghost came, he shaped into a loving character. He declined the offer for his nephew's party, so he made it up by buying the biggest turkey there is and delivering it straight to him. He even gave a raise to his late worker.