Ebenezer Scrooge is well-known as the "squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner" of Charles Dickens's classic novella A Christmas Carol. "Hard and sharp as flint" he is, and "secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster" (stave 1).
Sometimes overlooked in the vilification of the Ebenezer Scrooge who famously said that "every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart" is the other Ebenezer Scrooge—the Scrooge who the miserly, curmudgeonly Scrooge becomes with the help of his deceased former business partner and three spirits of Christmas.
The transformation from one Scrooge to the other is remarkable, because it is so emphatic and so complete and is done "all in one night" (stave 4). The transformation, sometimes called Scrooge's "redemption," begins before the reader becomes aware that it's happening.
The first glimpse of Scrooge's humanity is the vulnerability he shows when the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, appears to him. Scrooge is at first unimpressed by the ghost, who he rationalizes might be merely the result of "an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato" (stave 1).
Within minutes, though, Scrooge is on his knees, begging the ghost to "speak comfort" to him and to tell him how he can escape Marley's fate of wandering through eternity dragging the heavy chains he forged in his life of "business" with "no rest, no peace. Incessant torture of remorse” (stave 1).
“You were always a good friend to me,” said Scrooge. Who would have thought that Scrooge had any friends at all?
The transformation continues as Scrooge's humanity returns to him, little by little. Taken by the Ghost of Christmas Past back into his own past, Scrooge remembers what kind of person he was and how he felt before he devoted his life to the accumulation of wealth.
He remembers the kindness shown to him by Mr. Fezziwig, the friendship of Dick Wilkins, and the happiness he felt at Fezziwig's Christmas party. He remembers the sadness and the sense of loss he felt when Belle broke off their engagement because of his love of money. He remembers how he once wanted nothing more than to be a beloved husband and father:
And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than ever, when the master of the house, having his daughter leaning fondly on him, sat down with her and her mother at his own fireside; and when he thought that such another creature, quite as graceful and as full of promise, might have called him father, and been a spring-time in the haggard winter of his life, his sight grew very dim indeed. (Stave 2)
More and more of his Scrooge's humanity returns to him as he travels with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet To Come, until he finds himself back in his own room on Christmas morning, feeling reborn. He says,
I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. (Stave 4)
With his humanity restored, "He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.... and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge" (stave 4).