A Christmas Carol Themes at a Glance

A Christmas Carol key themes:

  1. In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge’s initial penny-pinching reflects the values taking hold during the Industrial Revolution. Dickens illustrates what happens when individuals view relationships and other people through the prism of money.

  2. Dickens proposes that connecting individuals to one another is what ultimately corrects the social injustice created by capitalism.

  3. Marley’s ghost serves as a reminder of Scrooge’s guilt in casting away his family and friends. Many of the people Scrooge mistreats are innocent, less fortunate, and/ or loving.

  4. Scrooge’s dysfunctional relationship with his father left him with a fear of connecting to others.

  5. Dickens exposes the tremendous gap between the rich and the poor.

Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

“A Christmas Carol” is deeply rooted in the important nineteenth century question of how Christian morality would survive in the face of an increasingly utilitarian and capitalistic world brought on by the Industrial Revolution. The financial success that Scrooge enjoyed is precisely the goal of capitalism, but a fixation on the accumulation of wealth seduced Scrooge into seeing every aspect of life in such terms. Not only Christmas, but his fiancé, his dying friend and business partner, his reputation, his office staff, and his only living family member are all weighed against their financial cost and found unworthy. The costs of such selfishness and bitterness are not borne by Scrooge alone, however. Dickens’s portrayal of the social costs—prisons, workhouses, increased mortality, the creation of ghettos and slums, the miserable state of both wealthy and poor alike—clearly makes a case for morality and social justice on a larger scale.

On the other hand, the solution to social injustice in “A Christmas Carol” is not a social movement but individual redemption. The world becomes a better place almost immediately following Scrooge’s conversion. In fact, the story implies that a renewed connection to humanity is, in fact, the very essence of redemption. Though the Christmas setting invites a traditional Christian interpretation of Scrooge’s redemption, his change is rooted not in a commitment to deeper spirituality or orthodoxy but in an authentic connection to and investment in the lives of other human beings. This “conversion” is not introspective and personal; it is outward-looking and social. While the results seem to change nothing about the social structure itself, the compassion shown by individual people changes the social relationships they share.


(Novels for Students)

Guilt and Innocence
Often in ghost stories, the ghostly apparitions function to remind the main character of something...

(The entire section is 739 words.)