The Student Room Group

Tips for my ACC essay?

Hi, i wrote a practice essay on loneliness in a christmas carol. How could i improve (and what mark could this get)?

In his political diatribe, “A Christmas Carol”, Dickens constructs Scrooge as a character who transforms from being willingly isolated to determined to “live to be another man” (who does not suffer from extreme loneliness). Dickens’ message therefore is to inspire more charitable, philanthropic attitudes in the aristocratic, upper class businessmen of Victorian London.

In the exposition of the novella, Scrooge’s lifestyle is established as considerably lonely (his “sole fiend” having died, an equally avaricious businessman subjected to purgatory as a result of his isolation from the rest of society), as he disregards any attempts of friendliness from others, including his own “cheerful” nephew, Fred. Clearly, Scrooge’s “melancholy” lifestyle is a conscious choice, as “darkness was cheap, and Scrooge liked it”. This introduces the motif of light and fire, symbolising kindness; at this point, Scrooge’s isolated status inhibits any possible manifestation of kindness. Dickens may be demonstrating that the isolation of businessmen from their employees, and from the needy in society is closely related to misanthropy. This alternatively suggests that, while this lifestyle may be a choice, it is ultimately an inevitable consequence of pursuing a “golden idol”, wealth.

In Stave 2, Scrooge’s lonely nature is interestingly exposed as not having been always present in his character. His childhood self is described as “a solitary child, neglected”. The adjective “solitary” references Scrooge’s later portrayal in the simile “as solitary as an oyster”, highlighting the permanence of such a trait, however an “oyster” (despite having the potential for a pearl) is a considerably more closed portrayal than simply being “neglected” (which gives an impression of his loneliness being a product of others’ actions and choices, not his own). Furthermore, the setting includes a “feeble fire”; the motif of fire is used to symbolise how at this point, Scrooge still harbours some form of virtue and kindness (albeit “feebly”), further emphasising how he is not yet fully isolated. The fricatives suggest aggression, perhaps foreshadowing Scrooge’s later choice to accept and even make greater his isolation and loneliness. The overall contrast between this portrayal and the one presented in the beginning of the novella may be a message from Dickens that realistically, no one is born with a rooted sense of isolation, therefore proving the capacity for the target upper class readership to revert back to their sociable ways. Dicken’s portrayal of Scrooge as a “poor” young child may also evoke sympathy in the reader, which further persuades them to seek change.

As the “phantom” is introduced in Stave 4, loneliness is portrayed as a much more morbid attribute, and a punishing consequence of misanthropy and myopic pursuits of personal wealth. This is evident as Scrooge, when introduced to businessmen who casually “laugh” and “yawn” when discussing his own death, is “assured of a hidden purpose”. Clearly, he is reluctant to admit his flaws; this emphasises his “hard and sharp”, stubborn nature, whose loneliness could only ultimately be highlighted by the supernatural (this proves the inevitability of isolation as a result of his miserly ways, as no other force could successfully “influence” him). In response to Scrooge’s hopefulness, the “phantom” “answered not”, proving that a lonely, isolated life can only be sought and pursued by Scrooge himself, through his actions that he “girds” of his “own free will”. This uncertainty is further emphasised by the lexical field of uncertainty in Stave 4, including “vague”, “mystery” and “uncertain”; Dickens is perhaps intending to shock and evoke fear in the reader, as a harsh “lesson” to persuade them to “live to be another man” (or suffer in purgatory). This effect is highlighted through Scrooge, who desperately wished to “sponge” off the “writing” on his grave, and instead “Honour” the spirits’ “lessons” with a “thankful heart”. Furthermore, Dickens uses the consequence of death (portraying a “churchyard overrun by weeds”) to link miserly loneliness to God, further urging the Christocentric readership to reflect on their ways, and possibly be more communal in their ideals (to improve the working class and child labour crisis currently taking place in 1843 industrial London).

Overall, Dickens uses the portrayal of loneliness and isolation to prove to his target readership that loneliness is an undesirable consequence of selfish monetary gain, however it is possible to adopt more communal, sociable ideals (to avoid the inevitable consequences and “chains” that may otherwise follow).

Quick Reply