The concept of generosity permeates the story, differentiating those who understand its significance, like Bob Cratchit and Fred, from those who view it as a weakness, like Scrooge. In fact, Scrooge stands in complete opposition to the very concept; he is a penny-pinching miser, cruel in his treatment of others so long as it benefits him. His employee and his nephew, in contrast, both embody the generosity inherent in the Christmas spirit, with Fred consistently urging his uncle to do the same and Bob recognizing that although he has little by way of money, he has much by way of a family’s love. Both raise a toast to Scrooge in spite of the coldness with which he treats them, displaying kindness without any expectation of acknowledgment or recognition. That is, they are generous for generosity’s sake, and the fact that Scrooge behaves similarly when he anonymously gifts the Cratchits a Christmas turkey at the end of the story signals the completion of his evolution from miser to benefactor.


When Jacob Marley comes to Scrooge as a ghost, he is the embodiment of regret. Literally weighed down by a chain symbolic of his greediness in life, part of Marley’s punishment is his inability to warn the living of what lies beyond death; he’s forced instead to watch them doom themselves as he did, unable to help them now because he never bothered to help anyone when he was alive. When he’s given the chance to speak to Scrooge, to ensure Scrooge won’t have his same regrets, Scrooge is uncertain even as he’s granted the ability to see all the ghosts wandering the afterlife, also weighed down by their regrets. Throughout the rest of the novella, Scrooge experiences one regret after another—for the way he treated a boy who tried to sing him a carol, for the way his relationship with Belle ended, for the plight of Tiny Tim. Ultimately, these feelings of regret contribute to Scrooge’s developing conscience.

Moral Responsibility

Dickens emphasizes throughout the novella that people have a duty to take care of one another, to uphold Christian values such as charity, compassion, and forgiveness. It’s not enough, Jacob Marley states when he visits Scrooge, to merely avoid committing sins; one must practice morality and make an effort to help others each and every day. The consequences of pride, evil, ill will, and selfishness are exemplified by the Ghost of Christmas Present in the Children of Ignorance and Want, two emaciated child figures who represent the state of the poor as a result of the wider societal tendency toward ignorance and greed.

The Christmas Spirit

Dickens characterizes Christmas as a time of generosity and good cheer; it has the ability to soften the hardest of hearts and transform even the bleakest of London’s streets. Though one should practice kindness and charity every day of the year, he explains, Christmas is a time devoted specifically to celebrating these concepts. The Ghost of Christmas Present brings the Christmas spirit to sailors at sea, far from their homes and their families, suggesting the mere idea of Christmas is enough to bring people joy and that everyone has a duty to embody, share, and perpetuate the Christmas spirit. The Ghost does this by sprinkling magic from his torch, but the action is symbolic; spreading the spirit of Christmas means being with loved ones, forgiving past wrongs, giving money to the poor, and celebrating the festive season.