19th Century London in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens’A time for finding yourself a year older, and not an hour richer’this is a good example that represents Scrooges overall attitude toChristmas and those who celebrate it.
The central character of a Christmas Carol is Ebenezer Scrooge a manportrayed by Dickens as a miser who cares little for others aroundhim, a man whose only interest in life is money that can be made fromexploiting other people.
The novel is set in Victorian London in the 19th century, a Londonthat is very different to the London we know today; there was nowelfare state, National Health Service or environmental laws. Realpoverty existed and those that had no money either starved or ended upin the workhouses, debt prisons or turned to crime.
It is interesting that the novel is set during Christmas, a time thatis traditionally for giving, a time to be spent with the family, and atime for reflection. Scrooge at the beginning of the novel does notappreciate this, and calls everything ‘Humbug’, and it is only throughhis visits with the ghosts that he realizes that pleasure can be foundfrom giving as well as receiving.
The picture that is painted by Dickens of life and the conditions inwhich people lived is very depressing by today’s standards: ‘The wayswere foul and narrow; the shops and houses wretched; the people halfnaked, drunken, slipshod, ugly. Alleys and archways, like so manycesspools, disgorged their offences of smell, and dirt, and life, uponthe straggling streets; and the whole quarter reeked with crime, withfilth, and misery.’
Throughout the novel Dickens focuses on many different aspects andissues about life in 19th century London. He o…
… a year older, and not an hour richer’ and he does notbelieve in giving or supporting any charities and he does not believein goodwill. This is suggested in many different things Scrooge saysin the novel. ‘God bless you, merry gentlemen!’, ‘Scrooge seized theruler with such energy of action, that the singer fled in terror.’This was said by Scrooge when he was visited by the carol singers, itshows how much anger and hate Scrooge has towards Christmas and thosewho celebrated it.
In conclusion, the image that one is left with from Dickens is a verydepressing one, one of dark, smelly, and polluted streets. Images ofpoverty and hardship, and a society that cared little for the welfareof others, where if you had money you could live comfortably, but ifyou did not life was very tough. It is not a place where, I feel,anyone today would like to live.