Learn English via Listening English Level 4 | lesson 48: Ebenezer Scrooge
In the story "A Christmas Carol," Scrooge is an English businessman who thinks about
nothing but money. He has no friends, and spends no time with his family. He lives alone,
eats alone, and works alone, except for his underpaid clerk, Bob Cratchit. Scrooge never
spends his money, but hoards it all, and prides himself on his frugality.
Scrooge hates Christmas. It is all nonsense to him. People spend money on food, and
gifts, and parties. Often they can't afford what they spend. Worse than that, they take a
whole day off work and so lose a chance to make more money. Scrooge is angry that he
has to give his clerk the day off with pay. He feels that he is being robbed.
Christmas is also a time when people are asked to give money to help the poor. Scrooge
is angry when two men come to his door asking for donations. Scrooge argues that he
pays taxes, which support prisons and workhouses. It is not his business to worry about
the problems of other people. Scrooge represents businessmen who see the "bottom
line" as all that matters.
Scrooge's partner Marley had died seven years earlier. He was like Scrooge in all
respects. That evening, which is Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by Marley's ghost.
Marley drags steel chains round about him, which contain keys, cash-boxes, ledgers,
purses and deeds. These are the things that Marley cared about when he was alive.
Marley is condemned in death to wander the world and tells Scrooge that the same fate is
likely to happen to him. However, three spirits will visit Scrooge, and if Scrooge listens to
them, he may escape his fate.
The first spirit comes and takes Scrooge back to the early scenes of his own life. He sees
himself being left behind at school while the other boys went home for the holidays.
Then his little sister arrives to tell him he could go home too. Another scene was of a
cheerful Christmas party, when Scrooge was a young man. A third scene showed him
with the girl he was planning to marry. She left him because he no longer cared about
anything but money.
The second spirit shows Scrooge what people are doing that very Christmas. He shows
Scrooge the preparations that people, even poor people, are making to celebrate
Christmas. They visit Bob Cratchit's tiny home. There they see the family cooking their
little Christmas dinner. Bob's son, Tiny Tim, has been weakened by disease, and has to
use a crutch to walk. The family is delighted with its meal, small as it is. They see other
scenes of poor people--miners and sailors --celebrating Christmas. Finally, they visit
Scrooge's nephew, and view his Christmas party and its games.
The third spirit was the spirit of Christmas Yet to Come - the Future. This spirit does not
talk but points to scenes connected with Scrooge. They overhear some businessmen
joking about someone who has recently died, but no one is going to the funeral. Scrooge
sees that he no longer occupies his usual place of business. The spirit then shows him
two women who have stolen the bedclothes, curtains, and clothes of the dead man and
taken them to a pawnbroker. The spirit takes Scrooge to the room where the dead man
died. The only people who are happy about the death are a young couple who owed him
money. The spirit then shows Scrooge the Cratchit's house, where they are mourning the
death of Tiny Tim. Finally, the spirit takes him to a churchyard, where they stand among
the graves. Then the spirit points to the name of the dead man on the tombstone--
"Ebenezer Scrooge." Scrooge is going to die, and no one will care.
Scrooge finds himself in his own bed on Christmas morning. He is resolved now to avoid
the fate that the spirits had shown him. He is delighted that he is getting a second
chance. Scrooge decides to surprise all his acquaintances, and he begins by buying a
huge goose and sending it to the Cratchits. On his walk, he meets the two men collecting
for the poor, and offers them a large sum of money. He goes on to join his nephew at his
Christmas party. The next day when Bob Cratchit comes into work, Scrooge gives him a
raise in his salary. He also takes care of Tiny Tim, so that Tim's health is recovered.
Charles Dickens' story was written at a time when governments did very little to help the
poor. Wages were very low, and many businessmen were unwilling to look after their
workers properly. Dickens points out that people like Scrooge not only make other
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