A CHRISTMAS CAROL 7
AChristmas Carol was a novel published in London in 1843 and writtenby Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens was a British author who had arough upbringing as a child growing up in the U.K. At the age of 12years, Charles Dickens was forced to get a job at a nearby factoryafter his father was arrested for a three month stint. He was forcedto leave school, sell his collection of books and get a job in orderto fend for himself. Dickens unfortunately continued to work at thefactory despite his father’s release from prison and thisexperience forever changed his life. Charles Dickens therefore grewaround poverty and had first had experience about the effects ofliving in poverty. Later on in his yester years, Charles Dickenswould be involved in fundraising in an effort to assist the lessfortunate children in the society. It is also believed that theChristmas Carol was inspired from his own experiences as a child andthe deplorable conditions some children were going through after theindustrial revolution. In the novel, Charles Dickens brings out threemain themes in the story, the industrial revolution, poverty andChristianity. In this essay, the author will delve into the threethemes and highlight Max Weber’s thoughts from his most memorableworks on the emergence of the spirit of capitalism.
CharlesDickens wrote many novels and tales but none is revered than theChristmas Carol, published in 1843. The novel sold over 6,000 copiesbut Charles Dickens did not make a lot of money as expected from thenovel following a dispute with his publisher. is astory of an old rich man Ebenezer Scrooge who was selfish, and neveranted sharing his wealth with anyone. For instance, he did not lightcoal for his clerk and could not offer money to charity. EbenezerScrooge was a grumpy old man who did not want to share anything hehad but this later changed when he had a visit from his old partners.On one night, Scrooge was visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley, anold friend of Scrooge who showed Scrooge in a dream the awful kind ofperson he had been. It was from this dream that Ebenezer Scroogerealized what an awful person he had been, and indicated never toimprove his life. He promised to go back and awake from his dream andbecome a different person. The dream by Ebernezer Scrooge was histurning point as the Scrooge changed the way he treated everybodyafter his encounter with the ghost of Jacob Marley. Ebenezer Scroogespends time with his nephew, lights up coal for his clerk and mostimportantly spends his time with the less fortunate in the society.The tale of Christmas Carol urges people to celebrate Christmas andmore importantly to remember the less fortunate in the society(Dickens,1843).
CharlesDickens was deeply touched at the levels of poverty and sufferingexperienced by poor children in the 19thcentury, and this was following the industrial revolution. Thechildren were starved most of the time and would show up in school intattered clothes, hence the named rugged schools. Charles Dickens wasconcerned that the children in his time were now turning todelinquency and crime in an effort to survive. Having brought up inpoverty, Charles Dickens could easily associate and relate to theplight of the young boys and girls who were living in deplorableconditions. According to Charles Dickens, the emergence of moderncapitalism had some negative impact on the society especially inissues such as poverty and crime.
MaxWeber was a sociologist, a political economists and a philosopher whoplayed a huge role in the discipline of sociology. Some of hiscontributions in sociology revolve around issue of socialstratification and inequality. However, one of his most famous workscan be retrieved in his book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit ofCapitalism. In the book Weber, argues that the Protestantism broughtby the Calvinists played a huge role in the development ofcapitalism. He sites that the protestants engage in business in orderto generate profits, which are an end to itself. According to Weber,the protests gave their activities some religious character. In fact,the Calvinists believed that the salvation was predetermined by Godand that the accumulation of wealth was a sign of God’s favor(MaxWeber, 2014).Other religious groups shared the same sentiments and this isattitude can be attributed to the erosion of traditional economicsystems and the emergence of capitalism.
Accordingto Max Weber, the theorists was opposed to industrial organizationsand rational bookkeeping which was characterized by the industrialrevolution. The same sentiments were shared by Charles Dickens in thetale of Ebenezer Scrooge, a wealthy man who did not wish to share hiswealth in the form of time or any contribution to the society.Charles Dickens associates the deterioration of the moral fabric inthe society to the rapid rise of industrial revolution in the 19thcentury. Dickens believes that the industrial revolution turned theway the western societies were socialized as everybody was seeking toearn a leaving at the expense of some individual in the society. Theindustrial revolution was the main ingredient behind the developmentof selfishness and greed in the society as industries sought to makemoney at the expense of its citizens. In addition, the industriescaused a lot of pollution in the society without taking anyresponsibility for the social costs to the society.
MaxWeber was also very vocal about the development of business acumenand the spirit of hardwork among the Protestants(Weber,2014).Weber believed that this character trait played an instrumental rolein the development of poverty in the 19thcentury. Both Charles Dickens and Max Weber were of the opinion thatthe need to make more money and self-aggrandizement was the mainreason behind the growth of the capitalist movement. As CharlesDickens narrates the story of Ebenezer Scrooge he was talking aboutthe rich people in the society who worry about their selfish gainsand don’t care about the society. Their focus was only aboutaccumulating more money for themselves at the expense of the poor.Capitalism brought about the need for education which only the richor wealthy in the society could afford. The poor children in thesociety were not so lucky as their parents could not afford to taketheir kids to school. Therefore, children from poor families would beentangled in a vicious cycle as they could not be able to affordschool and therefore could remain in poverty for the rest of theirlives. The tale of the Christmas Carol was inspired by CharlesDickens’s experience as a child where he left school and went on towork in a factory in order to fend for himself. In addition, the U.Kgovernment had set aside some schools for poor children who wouldshow to school with tattered uniforms.
Finally,Max Weber believes that the Protestant movement started by LutherCalvin caused the capitalist spirit but it was however the onlycontributing factor. Weber admits that capitalism in fact had someimpact on the development of religious ideologies. In the novel,Charles Dickens illustrates that indeed being a true Christian can bea solution to the greed and selfishness that characterized thecapitalist movement. For example, Ebenezer Scrooge turns out to be avaluable member in the society after his turning point. In otherwords, Dickens uses the story of Ebenezer Scrooge to show that trueChristianity is about sharing. This is evident in the story asEbenezer Scrooge participated in charities and shared his time withthe people around him after becoming a good Christian.
BothCharles Dickens and Max Weber shared the same sentiments on two ofthe three themes discussed in the essay. The two believed thatcapitalism played a huge role in the development of industrialrevolution and poverty in the 19thcentury. However, the two differ in the interpretation of the duty ofChristianity in the growth of capitalism. Max Weber believes thatChristianity played a key role in the development of capitalism afterthe Protestant movement. On the other hand, Charles Dickens showedthat Christianity calls for sharing responsibilities in the society.In fact, Max Weber at some point struggles to explain the correlationbetween Christianity and capitalism because he states thatChristianity was one of the many contributors of capitalism but notthe only contributing factor. Therefore, this shows that theassumption of the development of capitalism can be explained by theprotestant movement is flawed.
Dickens,C. (1843). AChristmas Carol.London: Chapman & Hall.
MaxWeber.(2014). Retrieved December 10, 2014, from Bio:http://www.biography.com/people/max-weber-9526066#synopsis
Weber,M. (2014). TheProtestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism.Retrieved December 10, 2014, from Sparknotes:http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/protestantethic/summary.html