In which ways does Scrooge's character change throughout the five staves of the novel? What way does his character feel in each stave after the spirits have visited him?

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kathik eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From the very first visit by Jacob Marley, Scrooge, in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, is beginning to change. With each of the ghosts, he becomes more and more afraid of what lies before him in the afterlife and more determined to change. When Jacob Marley visits, Scrooge has a lot of questions for him. Scrooge is surprised when Marley tells him he (Marley) regrets the things he did in life, and Scrooge says,

"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob" (Dickens 23),

as though that was what counted in life, but Marley counters with, "Business! Mankind was my business" (Dickens 23).

At the end of Stave I, when Marley tells Scrooge he will be haunted by three ghosts, Scrooge says he would rather not, but Marley makes him understand that through these visits, Scrooge has a chance of avoiding Marley's fate. Scrooge is tempted to use his usual rejoinder, "Humbug," but stops himself, which, in itself, shows progress already.

The Ghost of Christmas Past in the second stave reminds Scrooge of his younger life--of the joys and sorrows, of the love he once felt for others, and by the end of this stave, he is exhausted and saddened, and he realizes he put material wealth over once important relationships.

The Ghost of Christmas Present shows him Bob Cratchit's family and how, even though Scrooge pays his worker, Bob, so little, the family is happy and loving. Bob even toasts Scrooge in spite of his selfishness and greed. This stave finds Scrooge very humbled and on the verge of change.

Finally, the last spirit--the Ghost of Christmas Future--seals the deal by showing Scrooge his own end--his death all alone with nobody to mourn him. By the time this ghost is gone, Scrooge is a completely changed man. He wakes up to Christmas and realizes that he has been given a second chance. He is not about to blow this chance.

"'I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!' Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. 'The spirits of all three shall strive within me. O Jacob Marley! Heaven and the Christmastime be praised for this! I say it on my knees, old Jacob, on my knees!' He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the Spirit, and his face was wet with tears" (Dickens 113).

Scrooge spends the rest of his days making up for his past, becoming a generous boss and man, becoming like an uncle to Bob Cratchit's children. His metamorphosis is complete.

Read the study guide:
A Christmas Carol

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