Are Mr Fezziwig, Fred and Bob Cratchit minor characters with little importance in the novel A Christmas Carol?
The minor characters are important because they are symbols. Bob represents the hardworking and uncomplaining working class, Fred represents family, and Fezziwig represents joy and opportunity.
A minor character is one who does not have much of a role to play, but that does not mean the character’s role is not important. In a novella as short as this one, every character is woven into the fabric of the plot.
Bob Cratchit is a symbol of the poor working man. He may not have much of a role in the story, but he has a powerful symbolic one. He is the epitome of the hard-working, struggling working class. Cratchit barely scrapes by on the living he makes, and his children have to work to support them. Yet he is happy, because he has a loving family.
There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. (Stave 3, p. 33)
Bob Cratchit is an uncomplaining, kind man. He loves his family, and actually toasts Scrooge as the “founder of the feast” despite his wife’s objections that Scrooge is grumpy and doesn’t deserve it. In the end, Scrooge decides to be nicer to Bob, and by extension the working class.
Fred, Scrooge’s nephew, represents the importance of family. As Scrooge and Fred argue about why he married, Scrooge seems to forget that Fred is the child of the sister he loved. Scrooge and Fred only have each other, and they should take advantage of that bond and support one another. Fred continues to come and see Scrooge and ask him to dinner on Christmas, even though he continues to say no. Fred does not care, because he is family. Scrooge reminds his party guests of this.
[The] consequence of his taking a dislike to us, and not making merry with us, is, as I think, that he loses some pleasant moments, which could do him no harm….” (Stave 3, p. 37)
Fred is actually a very important part of Scrooge’s life, but he does not realize it. Once he reforms, he becomes a better uncle and a better friend.
Fezziwig was Scrooge’s boss when he was an apprentice. Fezziwig was hard-working and successful, but he knew how to have fun. Scrooge did too, when he was that young. When Scrooge sees him again, he gets angry at the ghost for suggesting that he spent only a few pounds and it wasn’t praiseworthy. Scrooge gets thoughtful.
“…I should like to be able to say a word or two to my clerk just now! That's all.” (Stave 2, p. 24)
Scrooge realizes that Fezziwig was a good boss because he allowed merriment into his life. He also had a living wife and a big family. When Scrooge sees his old boss, he realizes the he has not been a good boss.