The Role Of Memory In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

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A Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens (1812-1870) and published in 1843. The novel was the first of five in a series of Christmas books that Dickens was commissioned to write. It is thought that several of the darkest episodes in his novels are based on his own personal experiences, for instance when his father spent some months in a debtor’s prison in London.

Memory serves as an important tool for the ghosts to reach out to Mr. Scrooge’s sympathetic feelings, thus contributing to the change of personality that Mr. Scrooge undergoes towards the end of the novel.

The First of the Three Spirits:

The first of the Three Spirits is the “Ghost of Christmas Past” which represents Mr. Scrooge’s memory. Memory here serves as a reminder to Mr. Scrooge that he is still emotionally connected to other people, despite his withdrawal. The first memory that sparks Mr. Scrooge’s feelings is the scene from his childhood: the little boy Ebenezer that had to spend the Christmas holidays alone at his school.

“At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire; and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he had used to be.” (38).

We see that he is immediately very touched when he sees this scene before him, which is exactly the reaction the ghost hoped for. After this scene, Mr. Scrooge sees his sister telling him that their father has given his consent to let Scrooge come home. We learn that she is now dead and that she left a child:

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