Dickens Views on Normal Social Behavior in A Christmas Carol
Dickens presents Scrooge as an outsider in this extract by the way he is described. He is an outsider because he is miserly and heartless. He uses the weather in the first paragraph to show how Scrooge is ‘colder’ than anything and how the weather can throw at him: “heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet’. The listing of four types of bad weather intensifies the description of Scrooge being naturally isolated and cold. “External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge.” Dickens emphasises how Scrooge is already bitter so weather has no effect on him.
Dickens then goes on to give examples of normal social behaviour in order to show that Scrooge is outside of society. “Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks ‘My dear Scrooge, how are you? … no children asked him what it was o’clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge.”This indicates how no one is ever glad to see Scrooge. No one asks him about his life. No one asks him what time it is. Everyone including woman, children and men who require assistance avoid asking help from Scrooge. They understand that Scrooge is an awful man with no respect. Dickens uses examples of direct address: ‘My dear Scrooge, how are you?’ in order to highlight how unusual it would be for anyone to address Scrooge like this.
“Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts” This exaggeration drives the point that Scrooge is recognisably terrible that even the dogs guide their blind masters away from him. The use of dogs in this part of the extract suggests how obvious the unsympathetic character of Scrooge is.
This is then summarised by stating that Scrooge doesn’t want to be sociable and in fact likes his isolation: “it was the very thing he liked’. Scrooge is an outsider because that is the way he likes it. He prefers his own miserable company to that of anyone else. “To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance” focuses how he prefers walking out of the society than be with it, he avoids communication with anybody.
Throughout the novel Dickens expresses Scrooge as an outsider through his actions. He has spent a long time being rude to others, being pitiless to anyone whom he does business with and refusing attempts to reach out to him by those few who actually care for him. Consequently no one expect Fred tries with him anymore. Fred is a good natured nephew of Scrooge who invites Scrooge to the Christmas dinner with his family but Scrooge doesn’t want to get involved with the society and refuses to go with a Bah! Humbug! His nephew cannot get him to come to dinner, even though it would mean he is on his own at Christmas.
Though his nephew tries to convince him to join his family, Scrooge replies, “Nephew, keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine!” It is as if Scrooge cares nothing for the whole idea of Christmas; he is like the ‘external cold’ but on the inside. Where others can see the joy in the season, he cannot. Where others can see the grateful the time with their families’ scrooge cannot see this, excluding him from the society. This attitude is shown later when Scrooge is visited by the charitable gentlemen. When asked for donation he openly expresses his contempt for those who need it. He lacks empathy for those around him making him an outsider .Even though it is Christmas, the season of goodwill, Scrooge sends them away very rudely and shows no concern for the fact that some people could really benefit from just a little bit of charity. Scrooge wants nothing to do with the community in which he lives except to get money from it.
Scrooges’ obsession in money had lead to his loneliness. He cares about nothing else. The obsession drives him away from people from forming close relationships. It also prevents him from having any hobbies or interests which makes it more difficult for Scrooge to be involved with anything. His money minded attitude had lead to his fiancée Belle leaving him which is shown by the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Moreover we can see that Scrooge wants to be an outsider as he lives in a separated house. “They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be…” The adjective gloomy expresses how rooms are not fancy or anything but just dull. The description of the house shows how he wants and prefers to be lonely.
It is only when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge his lonesome, cold funeral that Scrooge finally realises that his loneliness and isolation from society will lead to nothing but misery. He has been shown a lot of warmth and happiness and the time when he was a happy member of the society before greed and loneliness took its place. Scrooge is miserly, tight-fisted, stingy, mean and parsimonious before he redeems.