In Stave One of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is approached by a couple of gentleman collecting for charity. Either they're blissfully unaware of Scrooge's miserly reputation or they hope that perhaps his icy heart has somehow been melted by the warmth of Christmas spirit. In any case, they ask the old skinflint for a contribution to the poor and needy. Big mistake. Scrooge lets rip with a vicious, unfeeling rant in which he shows utter contempt for the poorest members of society. Like a lot of people at that time, he thinks that the poor have no one but themselves to blame; poverty is due to a lack of moral fiber and nothing else. If the poor die off, then so much the better; it will simply reduce the burden on society.
Later on, Scrooge's cruel words of indifference will be thrown right back in his face by the Ghost of Christmas Present. The Ghost is accompanied by Ignorance and Want, allegorical figures in the shape of half-starved, ragged children. Scrooge asks if they have anyone to care for them. To which the Ghost responds, using Scrooge's own words to the charity collectors:
Are there no prisons, no workhouses?