What views on human behavior does Dickens portray in A Christmas Carol?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his essay, "Some Candid Opinions on A Christmas Carol,"  Norman Barrow, who is himself an author, criticizes the lack of humor and the overly didactic style in the novella, suggesting that Dickens wrote his work because with his renown acquired from such works as Oliver Twist and The Pickwick Papers, 

Dickens had discovered that he could sway the nation, and so, when Christmas time of 1843 came round, he decided to sway the nation with a Christmas Moral Story.

Certainly, this work by Dickens is an obvious medium for Dickens's attack upon the insensitivity of the upperclasses of his Victorian society for the poor and destitute as Ebenezer Scrooge personifies all the aloofness and cruelty of this aristocracy.  Likewise, Tiny Tim becomes a composite of all that Dickens wishes to teach about the poor, for, as Barrow remarks, he is decidedly "an angel" and everyone in the family reveres him.  Clearly, Tiny Tim is the mouthpiece for Dickens's sermon on human behavior as he is in marked contrast to Ebenezer Scrooge, who dismisses the lower classes, asking if there are no "workhouses....no prisons?"

Thus, through Tiny Tim, Dickens voices his social criticism on the mercenary and heartless in contrast to the child who is innocent, loving, and charitable in heart as he exclaims, "God bless us all!" Then, Dickens's somewhat maudlin depiction of the Crachit home without Tiny Tim shows the loss that is felt without love,

"I see a vacant seat," replied the Ghost,"in the poor chimney corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved.  If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die."

The moral lesson, then, in A Christmas Carol is the one of human charity and unselfish behavior that brings happiness, love, and meaning to humans' lives. For the social reformer, Charles Dickens, compassion for one's fellow man is paramount.