Central Middle School
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, is about the need to care about each other and be generous. It is true that some people are poor in the 21st century, just the same as in the 19th century. However, some of the ways they dealt with poverty then are much different compared to the way we deal with poverty today.
At the end of the Third Stave, the Ghost of Christmas Present had two children hiding under his robe. They looked ugly, ragged, and hungry. The ghost said that they were “Ignorance and Want” and people should beware of both of them because they can destroy society (Stave 3, p. 80). In modern times, ignorance and want can still destroy society. There is still poverty and some people refuse to see that the poor need help.
At the beginning of the novel, Scrooge thinks that everybody who is poor doesn’t work hard enough to get a job or keep a job. Dickens shows that is not true because Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s clerk, works very hard and still barely makes enough to feed his family. Some people still think like Scrooge, but the majority of people have realized that those in need could be there just because of bad luck or the weak economy. The recent economic down turn has affected everyone and now it is not unusual to have friends that live with other family members because of losing their house or friends who don’t have much spending money because their parents have lost their jobs. It also is getting harder for everyone to stay in the middle class.
In fact, there are more support programs for people in need, nowadays. In Stave 1, when two men came to collect money for charity, Scrooge said “Are there no prisons?” (Stave 1, p. 8). He also said if poor people didn’t want to go to a prison or union workhouse they should die and reduce the population so he refused to make a donation. On the other hand, nowadays, we support people in poverty through taxes, government welfare programs, and many people who have enough money to share donate to private charities and shelters. These programs provide food, shelter, and clothing for people in poverty. In these ways, people aren’t forced to work like slaves and are not punished for being poor.
At the end of A Christmas Carol, after all three ghosts have visited Scrooge, he starts to see that the poor people need to be supported. At the beginning of the book Scrooge doesn’t even want to listen to a beggar trying to sing, but at the end he gives a boy on the street a generous amount of money to buy a gigantic turkey for the Cratchits. As a result of Charles Dickens’ story, modern people have realized people in poverty need to be treated kindly.
Central Middle School
Charles Dickens’ classic novel “A Christmas Carol” was written in 1843, in the midst of the England’s Industrial Revolution. This was a time of great change, with people moving out of the country and into the cities to work in factories.
The cities became overpopulated and disease spread rapidly among people crowded into tenements. Residents worked long hours doing back-breaking labor. Children unprotected by labor laws worked 16-hour days in the coal mines. Since there were no safety laws, people worked two feet away from machines that could – and did – take their arms and legs off. And people worked for very low wages.
There was no social services system in 19th century England. There were no food stamps, no unemployment checks, no disability, no Social Security, no healthcare system for the indigent. So when the character Tiny Tim needed medical help and his parents couldn’t afford it, he went without. During that time, there was a big gap between the rich and poor and there wasn’t really a middle class. You either had a house, clothes and food to eat or you wore rags and didn’t know where your next meal was coming from.
In 21st America, things are drastically different. There are labor laws to keep people safe. We have many social services for the poor, including healthcare, unemployment, disability rights, education programs, food assistance for the needy, and help with utilities and housing. It’s not as shameful to be poor.
The recent economic crisis in the United States has changed people’s views on poverty. They either know someone who has been affected by the downturn or they realize how close poverty is for them when it was never a problem before. Many people have lost their jobs and homes.
Charles Dickens understood poverty. His father went to debtor’s prison because he spent all the family’s money and couldn’t pay their bills. Because of that, Dickens had to go to work in a factory making shoe polish. Later, when he started writing, Dickens made enough money to keep himself and his family out of poverty. But he never lost sight of the need to help people.
In “A Christmas Carol,” Dickens was making a point that society should help those in need and help better the lives of others who were less fortunate. He pointed out that people only give money and supplies during the holidays, but what happens when the holidays end? Giving someone $5 at Christmas time isn’t going to help that person for the rest of the year. He was an early advocate of a national social services system.
It’s a lesson many of us are still learning today. We should always try to help those in need because one day, it could be us who needs assistance.
Central Middle School
“He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see” Stave III Page 62. A Christmas Carol , by Charles Dickens , contains a family known as the Cratchits who portray the being of poor in the 19th century. The son of Bob Cratchit is Tiny Tim who is handicapped. Being disabled in the 19th century is outstandingly different from being disabled in the 21st century. In the 19th century, those who were handicapped weren’t aided in the way needed to live as an imoblized person; but in the 21st century, one who is handicapped receives benefits and assistance. Due to the recent economic downturn, feelings on welfare and support have changed because the population of people needing welfare has increased. The novella suggests that those who are financially able to give to the poor, should do so.
In the 1800’s the poor were treated as harshly as possible to dissuade them from seeking help from the state. Those who fell into the poverty category, who were able bodied, were forced to enter a workhouse. However, in the 21st century receiving welfare isn’t based on whether someone is able bodied or not. Children who belonged to the less fortunate families in the 1800’s were sent to work, but being as how Tiny Tim is handicapped, he does not have to work. Times in the 21st century are much different, though children as still born into poor families, most do not have to be employed.
As a result of the recent economic downturn, feelings on welfare and support have changed. The population of the middle class have different views on how the poor should be treated. Some feel that those who are able to work abuse the system of welfare and unemployment, taking away from families that really need it. Another feeling on the less fortunate, is that the people of the first class should be taxed more, to benefit the poverty population. Views have changed because times have changed. 5 years ago the economy was in better shape then the current status of it, therefore less of the civilian populace was catagoriezed as poor. With that said, if less were poor, than more felt that they had the finacial stability to give to those less fortunate. In contrast to 5 years ago, now that more people are in poverty, a great sum of the population feels that they no longer have the ability to give to those in need, while continuing to support themselves.
Charles Dickens suggests in this novella that those lessfortunate are in need and, if possible, should be assisted. In the final part of the novel, the main character Scrooge, transforms into a more perferable person. In doing so, he demonstrates the point that Charles Dickens is trying to get across. Scrooge realizes that he has more than enough money to support himself thus he gives to the poor.
As was preiously stated, handicapable beings in the 19th century, the time A Christmas Carol was written, were punished instead of being aided as they are in the 21st century. Feelings on welfare and support have changed in the minds of the middle class due to the recent economic downturn. A Christmas Carol suggests that those in poverty are in need and, if feasible, should be provided with support.