The London of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is poor, cold, old, dark, and unfriendly. The novel takes place during the Industrial Revolution, and poverty is widespread. The descriptions of London and Scrooge are similar. The major difference between the two is that Scrooge is far from poor. He is quite wealthy, but is so miserly that he might as well be poor. The transformation of Scrooge in the novel reflects the transformation Dickens would like to see London undergo.
Words and phrases that are used to describe London in the first stave include "fog and darkness thickened", and in the "ancient tower of a church" was a "gruff old bell" seen through "Gothic" window. "Ragged men and boys" were gathered around a fire. "Piercing, searching, biting cold" was in the air, even as the people of the city tried to get ready for Christmas. When asked for a contribution for the "hundreds of thousands" who are destitute, rather than donate to charity, Scrooge suggests that the poor who would rather die than go to the work house "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population". The words used throughout the first stave echo the cold, bleak, poor quality of London at that time.