Dickenss life was very complicated and full of troubles. He was born on 7th February 1812, in Portsmouth. His family had many problems, especially with money. As a result of this, they had to move around a lot and at age twelve, Dickens had to drop out of school, so he could work in a blacking factory, to help support his struggling family. This was not enough, as his father was sent to prison as he couldnt pay the rent, and his family soon followed, as they had nowhere to live. Dickens gained inspiration and influence, for his later books, and he gained respect for money, while in prison.
In 1824, at age twelve, his mother died and didnt leave him a lot of money. He then went to school for two years, and became a clerk for a solicitor at age fifteen. He then became a freelance journalist at age seventeen. In 1843, he published A Christmas Carol, with the aim of reminding people in Victorian times that they should be kinder towards each other, and share the Christmas spirit, not just at the festive period, but all year round. He also wrote the book to get across his views on Victorian society: he uses the book as a messenger to criticise Victorian society.
He didnt like the way it worked, and he wanted something to be done about it. Other writers later wrote about this, for example, J B Priestley, at the time of the Welfare State. The Welfare State is something similar to what Dickens would have wanted to be implemented into Victorian society. Another view he wanted to get across, was his issues with the Churchs power over businesses. Many Bills were passed, limiting what could be done on Sundays, and Dickens felt that this was an attempt by the upper classes to control the lower classes, but disguised as a religious act.
This is expressed through the conversation between Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present: There are some upon this earth of yours¦ who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds ¦ in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us. Here the spirit is saying that the Church and the upper classes were doing things and saying that they were in benefit of the people, when however, they were benefiting only themselves. Dickens was under a lot of pressure for his book to be a success as he needed the money.
Luckily for him, it was a huge success, and within the first week of release, it had sold over five thousand copies. Dickens originally wanted to write about the problems regarding child labour. He then ran into money problems and changed it into a book that would get across his views and also bring some money in for him. A Christmas Carol, is a typical example of Victorian literature it is didactic and everybody is happy at the end. In Victorian times, poverty was a major issue, as it affected a lot of people. Many people who lived on the streets found it hard to earn money.
The worst bit about poverty was not actually living in the terrible conditions; the worst bit was that many people died from these conditions. In 1839 it was estimated that nearly half of all funerals in London were for children under the age of ten. This was a result of poor living conditions and under-nourishment in impoverished households. These poor people are personified through the character Want, in the book. The name Want does not mean want but it means need. The poor people need shelter, food etc. the rich on the other hand, are personified through the character Ignorance.
The rich people have ignorance of the poor people, who are in need. The Ghost of Christmas Present warns Scrooge, to beware this boy, for on his brow I see written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Here, the ghost is actually talking about Scrooge and telling him if he doesnt change his ways, he will have a bad ending. Child labour was another reason for many child deaths. Children were used to do many jobs like chimney sweeping because they would work for low wages, they were small and could fit into the small spaces easier than adults would and they were easy to convince.
Many children had to face the terrible conditions of child labour because they needed to help support their family. Those who did survive through their childhood usually grew up without any education and did not have much chance to escape the cycle of poverty. The poor people lived in very bad conditions and had very low living standards. In London, large houses were turned into smaller flats and tenants and the landlords who owned them, were not concerned about the upkeep or the condition of these living areas.
The homes of the poor were equipped with open fireplaces for heat and cooking but not with ovens. So many people, who lived like this, like the Cratchits, took their Christmas goose or turkey to the bakers shop. Bakers were forbidden to open their bakeries on Sundays and holidays but they would open their shops on these days to the poor and bake their dinners for a small fee. Scrooge however, did not suffer from the same problems. Scrooge lived in a large house, which once belonged to his deceased partner. This not only shows the split between classes, but also how tight fisted Scrooge is.