‘Generosity Is Not Just About the Giving of Money’. How Is This Idea Explored in a Christmas Carol?

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Charles Dickens’ allegorical tale ‘A Christmas Carol’, explores ideas about generosity, and explains the idea that generosity can be understood in ways that do not involve the giving of money. The stories used by Dickens to exemplify this idea are mostly about the generosity of spirit shown by people who are unable to give money; the poor, the burdened and the children. Dicken’s position seems to be to contrast that whilst the rich and the powerful can sometimes ignore the cries for help from the poor and the weak, exemplary acts of generosity often come from people who have nothing material to give. As Marley said “Mankind was my business.” In the beginning of the novella, the main protagonist, Ebenezer Scrooge, opposes Christmas and all the kind-hearted, charitable values it stands for. Throughout the tale Scrooge is visited by Ghosts from a Christmas past, present, and future, who show the “bitter” Scrooge how to be compassionate towards others. Money is a big part of the story, and it plays a role as a contrast to how generosity is viewed. Scrooge is rich but lives a life as “solitary as an oyster” and “warning all human sympathy to keep its distance.” He initially supports the inhumanity of cold-hearted decisions made by governments with his response to the charity collectors being, “Are there no prisons?... And the Union Workhouses. Are they still in operation?” He feels no compulsion to give charity to support meagre gifts to the poor and dispossessed and dismisses the collectors with “I cannot afford to make idle people merry” and with suggestions that such people would be better dead to “reduce the surplus population.” These suggestions contrast sharply with the generosity of both his nephew, Fred and his clerk, Bob Cratchit. His nephew remarks that Christmas is “a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time.” He encourages Scrooge to think...

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