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A Christmas Carol Ending Explained: Lessons of Compassion In Victorian England

A Christmas Carol Ending Counting House

The ending of A Christmas Carol depicts a pivotal moment in the story, where Ebenezer Scrooge’s character development comes into fruition. 

As the tale draws to a close, Scrooge undergoes a transformation demonstrating the importance of compassion and empathy towards others.

This article will delve deeper into the ending of A Christmas Carol and examine how it is a satirical reflection on the socio-economic state of Victorian England.

The Story of A Christmas Carol

Before we delve into the ending of A Christmas Carol, it’s essential to provide a brief overview of the story’s plot.

The story follows Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly and selfish businessman, who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley.

Marley warns Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits – the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come – who will help him change his ways. 

Over the course of the story, Scrooge is faced with the mistakes of his past, the sadness of his present and the loneliness of his future.

A Christmas Carol Analysis Ghost of Christmas Present

A Christmas Carol Ending Explained

Scrooge’s experience with the three spirits leads him to recognise the error of his ways. The ending of A Christmas Carol depicts Scrooge waking up on Christmas morning.

Suddenly, he is filled with a  newfound sense of joy and compassion, loaded with a realisation that his visions from the Christmas spirits have faded back to reality.

Five-Act Structure in A Christmas Carol

The story’s structure forces Scrooge to recognise his own lack of compassion.

The opening act shows him to be jaded and bitter before the second and third act progress with the Ghost of Christmas Past and Present. 

After this, the fourth act presents Scrooge with a devastating realisation that he will ultimately die alone whilst a group of thieves ransack his possessions.

Suddenly, the prospect of Scrooge’s mortality and the grim circumstances in which his life ends forces him to repent, which delivers his character development.

As Scrooge awakens on Christmas morning, the story moves into its final act, and his character change is expressed through a vast shift in his attitude.

Scrooge’s transformation as he sets out to make amends for his past misdeeds. In the original tale, Dickens does this by reframing all of the instances of Scrooge’s behaviour in the opening act. 

In other words, Scrooge’s altered self has become a direct mirror image of who the audience was initially introduced to as he relinquishes his lack of compassion in favour of a more charitable version of himself.

He joyfully spreads kindness and cheer to everyone around him, including his employee Bob Cratchit, whom he had previously mistreated.

Scrooge’s transformation is not just evident through generosity towards others, though, but also in his newfound appreciation for the world he lives in.

He experiences a renewed sense of wonder and awe at the simple pleasures in life, such as the joy of spending time with loved ones and the beauty of the natural world.

A Chirstmas Carol Ending Jacob and Scrooge

The Satire of A Christmas Carol

While A Christmas Carol is a timeless tale of redemption and the importance of treating others with kindness, it’s also a satirical reflection on the socio-economic state of Victorian England.

At the time of the book’s publication in 1843, Victorian England was characterised by a wide gap between the wealthy and the impoverished.

The wealthy elite, like Scrooge, often looked down on the less fortunate, and the story is an obvious critique of this mindset.

Scrooge’s wilful ignorance towards the state of those below him on the social ladder reflects the social prejudices being cemented during the Industrial Revolution.

As a result, Scrooge’s transformation is not just a personal but also a symbolic one.

He represented a need for the wealthy elite in Victorian society to reassess their values, as Dickens uses Scrooge’s character development to call for societal changes.

The story’s message is clear – those in positions of power and wealth must recognise the suffering of those around them and act accordingly.

A Christmas Carol Ending Scrooge Happy

A Christmas Carol: A Timeless Tale

In conclusion, the ending of A Christmas Carol is a powerful moment in the story that demonstrates the importance of compassion and empathy towards others.

Through Scrooge’s transformation, the story serves as a reflection of the socio-economic state of Victorian England and a critique of the wealthy elite’s lack of empathy towards the less fortunate.

As we continue to revisit this timeless story through numerous adaptations as, unfortunately, its message is just as relevant today as it was when it was first written.

For a deep dive into the ending of A Christmas Carol and how it is contextualised by the movie’s relationship between character and theme, click the button below to watch my video essay on the screenplay.

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Nick Fore Script Doctor / Script Consultant

Nick Fore is an experienced script consultant who reads screenplays for the British Film Institute.


He has written comprehensive coverage on over 1,000 scripts and has helped screenwriters get their work into development with production companies such as Imagine Entertainment and Screen Ireland. 

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