A Christmas Carol as an allegory is a simple concept to grasp knowing the definition of allegory. An allegory is a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one. The way Dickens was able to slip subtle messages into various character’s persona is amazing. Using the mankinds children Ignorance and Want, the cheerful Fred, the infamous Scrooge, and many other characters, Dickens is able to create an allegorical masterpiece that delivers his message in a holiday-based setting— the perfect time to influence the masses.
Ignorance and Want are, as referenced above, the metaphorical children of mankind. Dickens brings two traits that man will inherit to life; the affluent’s incognizance and the poor’s want. They are what has filtered down through generations, unchanged due to the negligence of the wealthy. The children’s condition shocks Scrooge, he actually asks the Ghost of Christmas Present if the children happen to be his to which the spirit replies, “‘They are Man’s,’ … ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want.
Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!’ … ‘Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And bide the end!'” This quote is an obvious depiction of a simplistic yet meanful message, the wealthy must change their ways for societies betterment.
Not an upperclassmen, Fred is a representation of the middle class man who is not ignorant to the troubles of the poor and embraces the Christmas spirit. He is very similar to another – barely mentioned – character, Scrooge’s old boss Fezziwig. The bring joy to their employees with a simple gesture, an invitation to a Christmas party. This shows that despite Fred is not a rich man he is still able to bring joy to his workers, dashing the concept that money brings happiness.
Dickens uses Fred as a foil to Scrooge to display differences through both attitude and action. Fred’s presence lightens the atmospere during the arguement between them and the fact that the ‘Man of Christmas Cheer’ tops Scrooge in the squabble furthers his point. Through a well written novella Dickens delivers his message, that the wealthy must change, time and time again.
Moving on to Mr. Ba-humbug himself, Scrooge is pictured as a parsimonious man even after he’s changed. Scrooge symbolizes the wealthy, aristocratic society members who are ignorant to the poors suffering. Dickens goes far as humanly possibly to show how unforgiving Scrooge is towards the lower class, one quote says that Scrooge is so cold that, “No warmth could warm his soul.”
Through a wordy tongue-lashing he gave to the men who asked for a donation for the poor Scrooge further shows his uncaring attitude. Through his tirade he shows how truly ignorant and neglectful he, and the class he represents, is towards the poverty-stricken. Using such a detestable character gives Dickens the ability to call for a change of moral in the wealthy, thus putting a cherry on top of the allegorical sundae.
Allegories have been written, read, forgotten, and remembered throughout the course of history but none such like A Christmas Carol. A strong moral message, simplistic with a deep impact, this novella embodies the meaning of allegory. By using well constructed characters and inlaid messages Dickens has thoroughly, and effectively, delivered a message to the masses.
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