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Emma Hoffman 1/8/14 Theme essay Mod 7 “Dickens was a very unhappy with the state of British society when

he wrote A Christmas Carol and took it upon himself to create a tale that could simultaneously satirize the world as he saw it and give those who read the story a sense of hope. Capra embraced this idea when making It’s a Wonderful Life” (Kath 41). This quote was about both It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. A Christmas Carol is based on a grumpy man named Scrooge who cannot see past money and his business. When Christmas comes around, three spirits enter Scrooge’s life to teach him the spirit of Christmas and what will happen if he does not encompass a more fulfilling life. He gets to see inside other people’s lives in order to better himself. After Scrooge’s experience with all the Christmas ghosts, he becomes not only a better person, but someone who adds happiness into other people as well. In It’s a Wonderful Life, a man named George Bailey has formed his life around helping others in his hometown of Bedford Falls. George took over his father’s business which was a building and loan company. After George’s uncle lost $8000, George feels his life is not worth living. When an angel comes to George, he realizes that his life has impacted many people in positive ways, and his life is precious. Both Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol and the film It’s a Wonderful Life criticize the way money and other materialist ideals control many people’s lives while also offering a sense of hope.

In A Christmas Carol, Dickens’ use of imagery creates a sense of gloom and dismay that reflects criticism of money and materialist ideals of many people’s lives. Scrooge was very cheap and would not spare the slightest piece of his money; therefore, when Scrooge returned home from a long day of work, Scrooge remained in the dark due to the fact that putting on the light would cost too much money. After Scrooge heard a noise upstairs, he immediately walked towards it. Dickens explains, “Half-a-dozen gaslamps out of the street wouldn’t have lighted the entry too well, so you may suppose that it was pretty dark with Scrooge’s dip… Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it” (Dickens 6). The obscurity of Scrooge’s house displayed a dark and gloomy mood. There was no light to spread happiness. There was only black to spread emptiness in the life of Scrooge. Scrooge’s concern about money overpowered everything else in his life. It showed how the materialistic ideals in Scrooge’s life came before living a bright life. When Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s old miserable co-worker, came to Scrooge in his ghost form, he explained to Scrooge the suffering he has been through because of his ignorance to the world around him. Jacob Marley had a chain of strong coils that he had to wear due to his lack of fulfillment in his life. Marley warned Scrooge that he may have the same fate. Once Marley left, Scrooge walked over to the window. Dickens states, “The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley’s Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives…The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power forever” (Dickens 10). The phantoms with chains dangling from their limbs depicted a bone-chilling and a murky mood. The moaning that the ghosts released from their throats conveyed their dread of carrying around the chains of a dark life. The ghosts wanted to be alive so they could fix their past and do good for humans, but they no longer could because their time was gone. In the phantoms’ lives, they were just like Scrooge. They were miserable and did not care about anybody. All they cared about was their belongings and how much money they made at work. Therefore, their chains grew heavy, and now they yearn to make good of their lives. It goes to show that money and materialistic ideals are not everything in life. After all of the ghosts influenced Scrooge to see past money, he completely changed his ways. On Christmas morning everything was different in Scrooge’s life. Scrooge’s morning is described as follows. “He went to church, and walked about seven

Emma Hoffman 1/8/14 Theme essay Mod 7 streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro and patter children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that nay walk—that anything—could give him so much happiness. In the afternoon he turned his steps toward his nephew’s house” (Dickens 3). The beggars that lined the streets showed the atmosphere of despair. Although Scrooge turned into a livelier human being, the city that surrounded him was still a dark place. On the other hand, Scrooge realized what he was missing out on when he did not care to be happy. The walk he had gave him pure happiness like he never had before. It goes to show how money and objects are not the key to a rewarding life. Instead, it is the wall blocking the greatness of what a life could be. It’s a Wonderful Life by Frank Capra also criticizes how society is obsessed with money rather than what really matters in life. Society believes that money and materialistic ideas are what defines a person’s happiness. In this movie, a man named George Bailey owned a building and loan company. Everything else in the town of Bedford Falls was owned by a man named Mr. Potter. When Mr. Potter and George Bailey had a meeting, Mr. Potter criticized George’s dad about not being a good business man. In return, George said, “Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!” (Capra). George’s father cared about the people he served. He was not only a business to them but a friend. On the other hand, Mr. Potter just wanted the money and used his costumers for just that. George’s father died a richer man because people appreciated him and liked him unlike Mr. Potter. Later on in the movie Mr. Potter wanted George’s business so he could own everything in the town. When Mr. Potter confronted George about this, George told him, “You sit around here and you spin your little webs and you think the whole world revolves around you and your money. Well, it doesn’t Mr. Potter. In the whole vast configuration of things, I’d say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider!” (Capra). All Mr. Potter cared about was his money. He did nothing and felt he deserved everything in the town. He did not care about his costumers. All he cared about was how much money he made. His want for money was extremely obsessive, and it blurred everything out of his life. George’s life also became a little bit hazy when he lost $8000 and felt his life was not worth living. George could no longer see the purpose in his life, and he tried to commit suicide. In the nick of time, an angel named Clarence came down to George to show him how his life has affected multiple people in positive ways. As Clarence puts it, “’Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” (Capra). Every life has a purpose in the world. Clarence showed how George’s life was precious to Bedford Falls by showing him what it would be like without him. The money that George lost overshadowed everything important in life like his family. George’s money was not what made people love him so much; it was his heart. Money has the power to take the place of the important things in life, and It’s a Wonderful Life shows how easily and how often it can happen. A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life both offer hope that focusing on what really matters in life will help make people happier. In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge learned many lessons from the three spirits that came to him. When the last spirit left Scrooge, Scrooge rejoiced in the happiness that filled him. When he awoke on Christmas morning, Scrooge was glowing with good intentions. Dickens explains, “Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, Glorious! Glorious! (Dickens 1). This offers hope that even though Scrooge was miserable and consumed with money for so many years that he could change his attitude towards life and Christmas. Scrooge turned out to be a happier man in the end, and he showed how there is always

Emma Hoffman 1/8/14 Theme essay Mod 7 hope in every situation. Scrooge then readied himself to go outside and spread his Christmas cheer. Dickens describes Scrooge’s morning as follows, “He dressed himself ‘all in his best,’ and at last got out into the streets. The people were by this time pouring forth, as he had seen them with the Ghost of Christmas Present, and walking with his hands behind him, Scrooge regarded every one with a delighted smile. He looked so irresistibly pleasant, in a word, that three or four good-humoured fellows said, ‘Good morning, sir! A merry Christmas to you!’ and Scrooge said often afterwards, that of all the blithe sounds he had ever hears, those were the blithest in his ears.” (Dickens 2). Scrooge’s happiness shown through that morning that even the people on the streets took notice to it. Some people even said “Merry Christmas” to him. Scrooge displayed a sense of hope to everyone that anybody can change who they are for the better. In It’s a Wonderful Life, Clarence taught George that his life was wonderful; therefore, when George wished to go back to his real life, his wish was granted. George hurried home and reunited with his family. Without George knowing, his wife gathered the $8000 needed for George’s business by asking everyone in Bedford Falls to donate money. When everyone entered the Bailey house with their donations, George’s brother said, “A toast to my big brother George: The richest man in town” (Capra). Even though George did not know it at the time, George always had a sign of hope-his friends and family. Because of them, George was able to regain the money lost which made him relieved. What made George happy on the other hand, was that George was not necessarily rich off of the money, but he was rich off of the friends he made and the family he loved. Clearly, A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life both show how there is always hope at the end of every experience and situation. Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol and the film It’s a Wonderful Life both criticize the way money and other materialist ideals control people’s lives, but in the end, they also offer a sense of hope. In each story, the main characters lost sight of what they already had, and they both wanted more in different ways. Once they realized what they were missing though, they both were able to lead a more fulfilling life. A lot of people in today’s society also get caught up with how much money they have. They forget about everything important in life, and they end up living an unhappy life. I know one family specifically whose dad is always working. Although he makes a lot of money and can afford anything his children want, his children miss him and want to be with him. The dad thinks that money can buy them happiness, but that is not true. All the children want is to be with their father, but the father is too consumed with money to see that. This just shows how society is obsessed with money, and both the story and film criticize the fact that money has become a number one priority in many people’s lives.