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

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Scrooge learns that the purpose of life is to take care of other people when one can. Marley tells him early on, "'Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business [...]." In other words, he ought to have been spending his time engaged in the business of life...

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Scrooge learns that the purpose of life is to take care of other people when one can. Marley tells him early on, "'Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business [...]." In other words, he ought to have been spending his time engaged in the business of life rather than the business of profit. Marley also says that

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. It is doomed to wander through the world [...] and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!

Thus, Marley makes it clear that what we are supposed to do in life is to travel around among other people and to share a fellowship with them, helping them as we can in whatever ways we can. This is the way to achieve happiness and to leave a lasting impact on the world (and to avoid the hellish afterlife that Scrooge glimpses outside his window after Marley leaves). We see this with Fezziwig, with Tiny Tim, and with Scrooge's nephew, Fred.

The Ghost of Christmas Past reminds Scrooge of his old employer and how much happiness the man gave to others by being kind and giving. The Ghost of Christmas Present shows the impact Tiny Tim makes, without having any money, through his love and his generous spirit. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows how much kindness matters when Fred offers his condolences to Bob Cratchit after the death of Tiny Tim. Offering this kindness and generosity toward others is what we live for, and if we do not do it during our lives, we are condemned to want to do it after death.

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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.

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