What are the overall lessons that Scrooge learned from the ghosts, in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From all four ghosts, Scrooge learns that people can change, and that he is headed on the wrong path.

Scrooge is an old miser that cares about no one.  He is lonely, and seems to be alone.  Although when he was younger he was interested in earning as much money as he could, he has not spent much of it.  He works regular hours and goes home to a decrepit, empty house.  One night, on Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his old partner Marley.

Marley’s ghost tells Scrooge that it is the business of all human beings to care about other human beings.

“It is required of every man … that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death….” (Stave 1, p. 14)

Scrooge is frightened by Marley’s ghost, but not much impacted.  His goal is simply to get Scrooge thinking, and he has arranged a wonderful opportunity for Scrooge to visit with three spirits.

The Ghost of Christmas Past is the ghost of Scrooge’s past.  He shows Scrooge his boyhood.  He sees himself alone at school, happy as an apprentice and fiancé, and then dumped.  When his fiancé Belle dumps him because he cares more about money than her, Scrooge starts on a long path that led to where he is now. 

“Spirit!” said Scrooge, “show me no more! Conduct me home. Why do you delight to torture me?” (Stave 2, p. 26)

Scrooge is clearly upset by these painful visions.  Yet, by showing Scrooge his past, the ghost reminds him that he had a past, and was not always alone and unhappy.

The Ghost of Christmas Present picks up where Past let off.  He wants to teach Scrooge the same lesson.  He wants to show him that he can change.  The first sprit showed him he was not always this way, and the second one will show him what he’s missing.

The Ghost of Christmas Future shows Scrooge what will happen if he continues this path.  Scrooge fears him, because he does not want to know what he might become.  In his heart, he knows it won’t be good.

“Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!” (Stave 4, p. 50)

When he returns home, Scrooge has basically compiled his experiences with the ghosts into one lesson:  he can change, and he should.  He does.

rochellerhea | Student

The main points the three ghosts are trying to get across to Scrooge are:


- Be kind to people

- Don't be stingy with your good fortune

- Be aware of the needs of others

- Let yourself be loved, and love others

Read the study guide:
A Christmas Carol

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