Scrooge is a complex character. While he is a moody pennypincher in the beginning of the story, he grows and evolves as he confronts the past that made him the way he is, and the people whose lives he affects.
The description of Scrooge in Stave One is not endearing.
Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. (Stave One)
He demonstrates the accuracy of this reputation by refusing to give Bob Cratchit enough coal to keep him warm, haranguing the men who ask him to donate to charity, refusing Fred’s dinner invitation and scolding him about marrying for love, and complaining about giving Cratchit Christmas Day off.
Yet despite this, when the ghost of Jacob Marley visits we learn that he cared enough about his former partner, and friend, to not only watch after him as a ghost but arrange for him to reflect on his lifestyle. As Scrooge visits with the ghosts, he changes. He has a chance to look at himself outside of himself, and realizes that he doesn’t have to be the grumpy old miser he has become.
This transformation begins when Scrooge visits himself as a young boy and as an apprentice. He sees the life events that have hardened him, and the point at which he made the choice to value money over people. When his fiancé tells him that he has started to care more about money than about her, his reply seems to etch his future in stone.
“This is the even-handed dealing of the world!” he said. “There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty; and there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth!” (Stave Two)
Yet, seeing this and the other hardships makes Scrooge reflective. He sees his childhood self and wishes he were nicer to the street urchins who sing Christmas carols for money. He sees the generosity of his former boss and wishes he were a better boss himself.
The turning point is when Scrooge sees the present, and realizes that he does indeed have people in his life who care about him, for better or for worse. He has just been too isolated and locked up in himself to see it. Scrooge realizes that he does have a family. The Cratchits and Fred are always ready to receive him. Seeing how the poor really live, and people with so much love in their hearts, breaks through his façade and makes him a new man.
Many people vow to change, but Scrooge apparently did. He became a benefactor to the Cratchits and a part of Fred’s life. More importantly, he began to look at people as people, and not burdens. It made his own life much richer.