In A Christmas Carol ,where does the Ghost of Christmas Present take Ebeneezer Scrooge and why?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Stave Three of A Christmas Carol, "The Second of the Three Spirits," the Spirit of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to several places:

1. A market where. despite the inclement weather, joyous people call to one another, "exchanging a facetious snowball" laughing, no matter where the ball landed. Throughout the market, fruits and nuts, figs and onions, tea and coffee, and fish and fowl are displayed as coins ring out in the crisp air along with the laughter. In addition there are "poor reveller" who carry their dinners to the bakers'. When they jostle one another and complain, the Spirit sprinkles incense upon their dinners, and their good humor returns.

2. The Spirit then carries Scrooge to the four-roomed home of Bob Crachit, where he and his wife, Martha and Melinda, Peter, "two smaller Crachits" and Tiny Tim all dwell. Martha has just returned from work, Bob and little Tim enter shortly thereafter. While the two "ubiquitous" smaller Crachits take Tim to see the Christmas pudding, Bob tells his wife that little Tim has remarked in church that he hoped others would see him so that they would be reminded "upon Chritmas Day who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see." Presently, they set upon their Christmas goose, exclaiming that it was the best they have had. Then, Mrs. Crachit steps out and returns with the pudding. "Oh, a wonderful pudding!" Mr. Crachit exclaims. When the pudding has been consumed and the table cleared, everyone forms a half circle near the hearth where chestnuts roast. A toast is drunk from two tumblers and a custard-cup with no handle, but these held the drink "as well as golden goblets" so all were content.

"A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!" "God bless us everyone!" said Tiny Tim.

However, before they depart this scene, the Spirit tells Scrooge there will be an empty seat and a crutch without an owner in the future. Scrooge begs that this will not happen, but the Spirit turns Ebenezer's own words upon him: "If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population," and the Spirit berates Scrooge to consider who that surplus may be.

Then is heard Bob Crachit's toast to Ebenezer Scrooge himself! His wife lets it be known that she considers the man an ogre, and the mention of the name overshadowed the joy for a few minutes, and the family continues its reveling.

3. As the evening falls, the Spirit carries Scrooge to a "bleak and desert moor," a desolate place of large, bare rock; they arrive at a miner's cottage where three generations sang an old, old song in joyous harmony.

4. The Spirit carries Scrooge over the sea to a "dismal reef of sunken rocks"  where sits a lonesome lighthouse. But, even here two solitary men had built a fire, joined hands, and wished each other a Merry Christmas "in their can of grog," and one of the weather-beaten men struck up a hearty song "that was like a Gale in itself."

5. Again the Spirit whisks Scrooge away; this time they arrive at the home of Fred, Scrooge's nephew, the son of his sister, standing amidst friends in a bright, "gleaming room." Fred laughs his contagious laugh, and all his friends join in.

"He said that Christmas was a humbug as I live! cried Fred. "He believed it too!"

"More shame for him, Fred!" said Scrooge's niece indignantly...."I'm sure he is very rich, Fred....At least you always tell me so."

"What of that, my dear!...His wealth is of no use to him. He don't [sic] do any good with it. He don't [this was proper in the time of Dickens] make himself comfortable with it. He hasn't the satisfaction of thinking--ha,ha,ha!--that he is ever going to benefit Us with it."

The nephew goes on to say that he feels sorry for his uncle, who has refused dinner with them, having decided that he does not like Fred and his wife. It is too bad, Fred adds, because Uncle Ebenezer loses some enjoyable moments which can do him no harm. After more laughter, their guests and Fred and his wife sit down to their Christmas dinner; afterwards, one of them plays music while the others listen; then, they play blind-man's bluff and other games, all having a good time together.

5. Finally, from inside his robes, the Spirit shows Scrooge two emaciated children named Want and Ignorance--"Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility."

"Have they no refuge or resource?" cried Scrooge.

"Are there no prisons?" said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. "Are there no workhouses?"

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Clearly, the Spirit of Christmas Present makes an argument for the adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" as well as a defense for using someone's own words against him. Scrooge is, indeed, touched by the elation of others at Christmas time, and from his reactions to the sight of Tiny Tim's lonely crutch and the images of Want and Ignorance, he is extremely moved. His trip with Christmas Present has had a profound effect upon Scrooge.

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