What is the role of Belle in A Christmas Carol?
Belle is only a minor character in this novella, as she only appears in the visions that are showed to Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas Past. However, her importance lies in representing how Scrooge has changed since his youth, and how he exchanged hope of happiness and companionship for his all-encompassing greed. This section details how Belle and Scrooge used to be engaged. However, one of the memories that the Ghost of Christmas Past conjures up for Scrooge's reflection is Belle's decision to break the engagement. Note her reasons for this:
You fear the world too much... All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of its sordid reproach. I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one, until the master-passion, Gain, engrosses you. Have I not?
Belle therefore is an important character in terms of tracing the moral degradation of Scrooge, and identifying what led him to become the money-obsessed, avaricious character that is presented to the reader at the beginning of the story. She represents a key moment of Scrooge's history and also details how Scrooge began his lonely journey towards the present through his increasing obsession with money. However, at the same time, her importance lies in the way that she is testament to a different Scrooge, who used to be characterised by happiness, generosity, and a giving spirit. This also establishes that a moral regeneration is possible and gives the reader hope that the Scrooge of the past may return and impact the Scrooge of the present.