A Christmas Carol tells the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, a cold and mean-spirited bachelor who shuns society in favour of personal wealth. As Christmas approaches, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his dead business partner and only friend, Jacob Marley, who tells him that he must reform his character before it is too late. Marley also informs Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts, whose purpose is to teach him the true meaning of Christmas.
As Marley promised, Scrooge is visited by three ghosts: the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. During their visits, Scrooge relives the painful experiences of youth, like the loss of his fiancée, and learns how little he is liked by those around him, like the family of his nephew, Fred. He also sees a glimpse of his future, in which he dies alone and thieves steal his possessions. Inspired by these experiences, Scrooge transforms his character, as Dickens explains:
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.
A Christmas Carol thus teaches the reader that friendship and family are more important than personal wealth and, significantly, that it is never too late to become a better person.