Scrooge learned a great deal about himself during the visitations
of the three ghosts in A Christmas Carol. He learned things that not only
changed his life, but also the lives of others such as Tiny Tim and his
family. At first these changes came gradually, probably because they where
not really "fueled" by fear of what might be, but instead by remorse for
things he had already done. Not until the second and third spirits visit
Scrooge can a true change due to fear, not only in fear for what might be
during his life but also in the end.
His realization of what might be is seen first with the second of
the spirits. This spirit shows him people from all walks of life, miners,
sailors, and even lighthouse attendants, but of all the places he went, his
nephew's and the Cratchit's homes were probably the most disturbing. Fred,
Scrooge's own flesh and blood, began mocking his own uncle in a game he and
his guests played. In a way this is when Scrooge began to realize that the
truth hurts, and the truth was his life was a terrible mess of loneliness
and misery. He knew if he didn't do something soon his testimony to life
would be much like the things his nephew said about him in the game played
at the party.
Then there was the Cratchit's who seemed to be more grateful
towards Scrooge, a man who gave them barely enough money to buy food and
shelter, then they really should have been. At first when Scrooge sees Bob
stand to toast him he's almost filled with pride or at least an enlarged
ego, but when Mrs. Cratchit says in a fit of rage "I'll drink his health
for your sake, and the Day's, not for his. Long life to him! A merry
Christmas and a happy New Year! He'll be very merry and very happy I have
no doubt!" (Dikens, 80) Scrooge is only reminded of what he is and what he
may end up as.
The third and final ghost brings Scrooges own fear of his existence
into a new light by actually scaring Scrooge into realizing what his life
is and what will happen if something doesn't change. The first scene is one
especially disturbing for Scrooge it takes place in the "market", a place
he spent a great deal of his life in. He sees some friends, or at least
some acquaintances he thought he could call friends, talking about his
death. They chatted casually about his death and of how cheap they thought
the funeral would be. In fact none would even commit to go unless another
of went along, for fear of being the only one there. To see his "friends"
talk so lowly of him even in his death made him realize once again how
meaningless his life was and how his death, as inevitable as it was, really
didn't have any effect on anyone but himself.
The second place we are taken to is the slums of the city, to a
pawnshop to be exact, where three thieves pawn off Scrooges valuables. They
took everything from his curtains to the sheets on his bed, a bed he was
lying dead in, and had no remorse for it. In fact they made jokes about his
death saying they just hoped it wasn't contagious. To this Scrooge was
speechless, he knew some disliked him but to steal from the dead is unheard
of. Once again he was reminded of what he had become, and now he had a
glimpse of the track he was headed down.
The last and final place the third spirit takes him is a cold, dark
graveyard. As they pass through the spirit stops and points to a tombstone.
Finally Scrooge, truly realizing his mortality, says to the spirit "Men's
courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if preserved in, they must
lead, but if courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus
which you show me!" (Dikens, 117) This is his last effort to convince
himself he can change.
The three ghosts taught Scrooge many things but most of all they
made him realize he needed to change, or his testimony to life would be
nothing more than that of a sour old man who's only purpose in life was to
fill the punch lines in jokes about him. In the end it's not how long you
live, it's how you live that separates people. Thanks to the three spirits
Scrooge learned this valuable lesson.
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