The protagonist of the novel, who begins the story as a hard-hearted, tight-fisted man of
commerce and ends it as a large-hearted, open-handed man for his fellow human beings.
Scholar Michael Patrick Hearn, in The Annotated Christmas Carol (1976; New York:
Norton, 2004), points out that, while broadly drawn, Scrooge is a more complicated
character than some readers and critics give him credit for being; he notes, for instance,
Scrooge's "twisted sense of humor" as offering hope for the man's "eventual
redemption" (p. xli). The keys to Scrooge's redemption lie in memory and empathy,
lessons taught to him by his various ghostly visitors.
Scrooge's late business partner, who died on Christmas Eve seven years prior to the
beginning of the story. Marley's Ghost appears to Scrooge in Stave One to warn him that
he, Scrooge, must learn the lessons which Marley never did. Dickens' language about
and descriptions of Marley suggest that he has been damned for his failure to connect
with his fellow human beings.
Scrooge's overworked and underpaid clerk, who nonetheless finds great joy in life,
especially in the love of his large family. The biblical passage which Bob's son Peter
begins to read in Stave Four-Jesus' teaching that those who enter the kingdom of
heaven must become like children-appropriately summarizes Bob Cratchit himself, a
man who can leave his cold (literally and figuratively) place of employment to go "down
a slide on Cornhill, at the end of a lane of boys, twenty times, in honor of its being
Christmas Eve . . . ."
Scrooge's nephew (the son of Scrooge's sister, Fan), who, like Bob Cratchit (with whom
he naturally sympathizes, despite the gap in their economic status; see their conversations
in Staves One and Four), maintains a child-like enjoyment of life and family. Fred
maintains a generous spirit toward his miserly uncle, extending an annual invitation to
Christmas dinner no matter how many times Scrooge declines it. He invites Scrooge not
out of a sense of obligation, but out of a sincere desire to spread and share his sense of
joy. Likewise, in Stave Four's "alternate future," he shows gentle kindness to Bob
Cratchit when Tiny Tim dies, and generously offers to assist the grieving Cratchit family
in any way he can.
A young boy who cannot walk without the aid of braces and crutch, but who is devout
and wise beyond his years (as Bob's report of Tim's comments while at worship
indicate). Dickens presents Tim as the essence of childish innocence. He is described as
"patient" and "mild," examples of his virtuous character. After his reformation, Scrooge
becomes a second father to Tim.
The man under whom young Ebenezer Scrooge served an apprenticeship, whose party for
employees and friends at Christmas exemplifies the generosity of spirit and power to
nurture others which old Scrooge must learn.
For profiles of the three Christmas Ghosts, please see Metaphor Analysis.