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Scrooge, an ageing miser, dislikes Christmas and refuses a dinner invitation from his nephew Fred—the son of Fan, Scrooge's dead sister.He turns away two men who seek a donation from him to provide food and heating for the poor and only grudgingly allows his overworked, underpaid clerk, Bob Cratchit, Christmas Day off with pay to conform to the social custom.Published on 19 December, the first edition sold out by Christmas Eve; by the end of 1844 thirteen editions had been released. The story was illicitly copied in January 1844; Dickens took legal action against the publishers, who went bankrupt, further reducing Dickens's small profits from the publication.
The treatment of the poor and the ability of a selfish man to redeem himself by transforming into a more sympathetic character are the key themes of the story.
There is discussion among academics as to whether this was a fully secular story, or if it is a Christian allegory.
He tells Scrooge to beware the former above all and mocks Scrooge's concern for their welfare.
The third spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, shows Scrooge a Christmas Day in the future.
The ghost then allows Scrooge to see a neglected grave, with a tombstone bearing Scrooge's name. Scrooge awakens on Christmas morning a changed man.
He makes a large donation to the charity he rejected the day before, anonymously sends a large turkey to the Cratchit home for Christmas dinner and spends the afternoon with Fred's family.Scrooge's neglected fiancée Belle is shown ending their relationship, as she realises that he will never love her as much as he loves money.Finally, they visit a now-married Belle with her large, happy family on the Christmas Eve that Marley died.In 1849 he began public readings of the story which proved so successful he undertook 127 further performances until 1870, the year of his death.A Christmas Carol has never been out of print and has been translated into several languages; the story has been adapted many times for film, stage, opera and other media.When he asks the spirit to show a single person who feels emotion over his death, he is only given the pleasure of a poor couple who rejoice that his death gives them more time to put their finances in order.When Scrooge asks to see tenderness connected with any death, the ghost shows him Bob Cratchit and his family mourning the death of Tiny Tim.After their visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man.Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol during a period when the British were exploring and re-evaluating past Christmas traditions, including carols and newer customs such as Christmas trees.He was influenced by the experiences of his own youth and by the Christmas stories of other authors including Washington Irving and Douglas Jerrold.Dickens had written three Christmas stories prior to the novella, and was inspired following a visit to the Field Lane Ragged School, one of several establishments for London's street children.