Ebeneezer Scrooge: Character Analysis (animated & updated)

Ebeneezer Scrooge: Character Analysis (animated & updated)


Dickens uses the character of Ebeneezer Scrooge
to criticise the divide between those who have money, and those who do not. We follow the change in the character, and
we learn as a reader that we can change too. Dickens’s use of repetition positions Scrooge
as a lonely character at the start of the novella when he summarises his role in relation
to Marley: ‘Scrooge was the sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his
sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner’. The repetition of the adjective ‘sole’
emphasises the solitary nature of the lives led by both men. Dickens also uses the simile ‘Hard and sharp
as flint’ to describe Scrooge. The adjective ‘Hard’ suggests that he
lacks warmth, empathy and compassion while the adjective ‘sharp’ suggests pain, implying
that Scrooge has no mercy towards others. The comparison with ‘flint’ is interesting,
however. Flint is used to create fire. Dickens might be implying that there is the
potential for a spark of warmth within Scrooge, who might yet change. Scrooge is described with the simile as ‘solitary
as an oyster’. At first glance, we have the impression that
Scrooge, like an oyster, has a tough, hard exterior and is closed to others. The simile is effective because it emphasises
how he has chosen to isolate himself. It also suggests that there may be more to
be discovered where Scrooge is concerned. Just as, when forced open, an oyster may contain
a pearl, so Dickens suggests there may be something worthwhile to be found within Scrooge. This imagery foreshadows the future positive
change in Scrooge’s character. Yet Dickens also uses humour in relation to
Scrooge’s character. I go through this in more detail in my top
set analysis video. For example, Scrooge tells Marley’s ghost:
‘You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment
of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about
you, whatever you are!’. Dickens deliberately uses word play with the
pun on ‘grave’ and ‘gravy’ to make Scrooge’s character less two-dimensional. This makes the reader more likely to engage
with Scrooge and celebrate his transformation at the end of the novella- if we just think
he’s an out and out idiot, we won’t realise that the message he learns in the novella
is also relevant for us as readers. The reader begins to feel empathy for Scrooge
when he returns to an almost childlike state in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas
Past. When visiting Scrooge’s old school, the
Ghost describes Scrooge as a ‘solitary child, neglected by his friends’. The adjective ‘solitary’ reminds us of
the ‘solitary as an oyster’, simile except that the child Scrooge was literally alone,
and this was not his choice. The juxtaposition of ‘neglected’ with
‘friends’ develops the reader’s empathy towards Scrooge at this point in the novella. When Scrooge ‘sobbed’ in response to the
Ghost noting the young Scrooge’s neglect, the reader understands that empathy and compassion
have the power to elicit an emotional response from Scrooge. This signifies the start of his transformation. (He is similarly moved when reminded of his
sister, Fan, his former employer, Fezziwig, and his former fiancée, Belle.) It is apparent that Scrooge is starting to
realise that relationships, not money, bring happiness. By encouraging the reader to feel sorry for
Scrooge, Dickens is inviting us to develop an interest in his transformation and to celebrate
with him at the end of the novella. When the Ghost of Christmas Present appears,
Dickens reminds us that Scrooge’s attitude is changing: ‘I went forth last night on
compulsion, and I learnt a lesson which is working now. To-night, if you have aught to teach me, let
me profit by it.’ He is prepared for the lessons that await
him. Interestingly, we still have imagery to do
with money. The verb ‘profit’ links to financial transactions,
so we are reminded that his transformation is ongoing – he is not yet completely transformed. Dickens signals an important moment in Scrooge’s
character arc when he shows empathy towards Tiny Tim. The Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge
to the Cratchit household, and Scrooge implores the Ghost to tell him of the boy’s future:
‘tell me if Tiny Tim will live’. Dickens’s use of the imperative signifies
that Scrooge genuinely seems to care about the little boy’s fate. This contrasts with his earlier comments about
the poor and, how if they die, this will ‘decrease the surplus population’. His attitude is certainly changing, and we
now see his hard, rational attitude to the poor and needy being replaced with a genuine
interest in their welfare. The climax of the novella is when Scrooge
reads his own name on a gravestone and realises that he is the person about whom everyone
has been talking. Dickens employs statements (declarative sentences)
when Scrooge vows to ‘honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and
the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within
me. I will not shut out the lessons that they
teach.’ Dickens’s use of statements emphasises the
significance of this moment and adds a tone of solemnity. In the final section of the novella, Dickens
employs more similes to describe the change in Scrooge: ‘I am as light as a feather,
I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy’. These heighten the contrast with the ‘oyster’
and ‘flint’ similes from earlier in the text. The simile ‘as light as a feather’ leads
the reader to infer that he has cast off the chains of his earlier way of life (chains
that are currently weighing Marley down). Feathers also connote freedom and flight,
implying that he is closer to Heaven than he was previously. This links to the ‘angel’ simile, contrasting
with the early description of Scrooge as a ‘sinner’. Angels connote goodness, signifying that Scrooge
has become a better person. We see that Scrooge is indeed a changed man;
his spiritual journey is complete and we, the readers, are left with the understanding
that people can change. Society is a better place if we all look out
for one another. Well I hope you found this video useful. Everything I go through in this video series
can be found in the second edition of Mr Bruff’s Guide to A Christmas Carol. The links are in the description – you can
pick up a copy. Please do subscribe, and like the video.

25 thoughts on “Ebeneezer Scrooge: Character Analysis (animated & updated)

  1. To anyone doing English literature next year, your doing the right thing by watching these videos! In my mock I received a grade 4 (D) and was so disheartened. However I started watching these videos as well as working really hard to get better. In my exam in May I got a grade 8. In paper 2 I received 30/30 marks on the anthology question, so watch those videos as well. Work hard and you can definitely do well!

  2. thank you for this it really helps me can you make a video on macbeth because i'm finding it hard in school i do not understand the words so if you don't mind can you please? And William Shakespeare has the same birthday as me!!!

  3. Definitely worth while watching Mr Bruffs videos. I did my gcses last year and got an 8 in English lit. I consistently watched these vidoes and this is the best source of revision. Your helping everyone Mr Bruff so I thank you

  4. Hi Mr. Bruff, I know this comment is nothing to do with A Christmas Carol, but for An Inspector Calls I am trying to revise by doing different scene analysis to break it down and I am really struggling to do that with only acts. I am finding A Christmas Carol and Macbeth easy to analyze because you are uploading the analysis scene by scene whereas An Inspector Calls is fairly difficult to do that without having the scenes. Please help! Thank you so much!

  5. Omg this is amazing!! Came like 3 days before my mock (we've been told the question is on scrooge as an outsider) tysmmm

  6. These are amazing videos, although barely anyone in my school knows about you. Our whole family line pretty much use you for our english gcse. It's my time now. You have been helping us for about 6 years. I sure will spread word around you in our school!

  7. Who's done the Eng Lit Paper 1 for OCR and what where the questions that came up for Macbeth and The Christmas Carol

  8. hi mr bruff, i'd greatly appreciate if you could mark this response to paper 1 question 2 to give me an approximate mark/band so i can see where i am working at and what to improve.
    Thanks, and sorry if i took your time

    the extract for this response is from russia with love by ian fleming chapter 13, or you could find it here https://gutenberg.ca/ebooks/flemingi-fromrussiawithlove/flemingi-fromrussiawithlove-00-h.html#tocchapter13

    How does the
    writer use language to describe the effects of the storm?

    The writer uses dark imagery to convey the effects of the storm on the plane. For example,
    the writer personifies the rain to be “hammering” on the windows, implying that
    it was viciously attacking the vulnerable windows. The verb “hammered” connotes
    penetration, as if the rain is trying to break inside the plane, like a burglar
    breaking into his victim’s house. It is almost as if the rain was given a great
    power by the mighty storm, which it should not normally have. This creates a
    sense of aggression to the reader. Moreover, the plane “heaved” and “bucketed”.
    These dynamic verbs portray the weakness and fragility of the plane as it helplessly
    struggles to remain stable. It also creates an image of the plane involuntarily
    devastated by the storm, almost like it jerks and spasms as if in terrible agony
    – like someone suffering a terrible seizure.

    In addition, the writer emphasises how terrifying the storm must have been for the
    passengers. For instance, he uses a violent verb when he states the storm had “ambushed”
    them, hinting that the storm could eliminate the passengers without them even
    realising. Also indicating that the passengers had no chance of protection. As
    if all that was left for them was to pray and hope to live another day. As a
    result of this, the reader may feel concerned for the potentially gloomy fate of
    the passengers. Furthermore, it is stated that bond smelt “something like the
    sweat and electricity you get in an amusement arcade” this simile heightens the
    tense atmosphere inside the plane. It shows that even the “danger” could be
    smelt, the repetition of the “smell” reinforces the reality of the scene,
    showing that it is undoubtedly unfolding before their eyes – because your senses
    can not lie. The abstract noun “sweat” could represent the panic and anxiety
    felt by the passengers, while the noun “electricity” might symbolise the danger
    and severity of the storm.

  9. This is sooo helpful, thank you. We watch some of your videos in our english class because everyone loves you. 🙂

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