Insightful Character Analysis of Famously Grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge

Is Ebenezer Scrooge really as much of a miserly misanthrope as we think? Read on to find out!

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Ebenezer Scrooge from 'The Muppet Christmas Carol' staring blankly

Charles Dickens’s famous 1843 story, A Christmas Carol, is a popular Christmas story following the miser Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s so popular that the term “Scrooge” is used for people who are miserly, as well as those who hate Christmas. But was Scrooge really as bad as he seemed? Was he truly such a terrible person? Let’s find out.

His Obsession with Money

Scrooge grew up poor, and it was only in his adulthood that he got out. He became obsessed with money because he knew that poverty was hard, and he never wanted to experience it again. But his obsession only grew as he got more money, and it isolated him from others, including his fiancee, who left him decades before the start of the story.

Ebenezer Scrooge counting money on his desk

He also learned never to trust anyone with his money, particularly because that was all people would want from him. He didn’t want to give to the poor because he believed they should work for it. He also never spent it on others unless necessary, like paying Bob Cratchit. He just wanted to collect money. For example, he lived in a small apartment with hardly any heat. He could have afforded better, but he wanted to save his money.

He is selfish with money, but it’s because he learned from his childhood and from upper-class society. This does not excuse him, of course, but it makes sense how he turned out the way he did.

A Lack of Christmas Cheer

Scrooge was abused by his father and sent away to boarding school, where he spent much of his childhood, including around Christmas. It was dreadful: students were underfed, controlled by fear, and it was always cold. Scrooge’s father surely knew, but he didn’t care to get him, choosing to let his son be abused by the school. Scrooge did have friends, but they often ignored him, and he was left alone.

Headshot of Scrooge looking grumpy with the caption saying "Humbug."

Given these experiences, it’s hardly surprising that he wants little to do with others. The only person he loved was his sister Fan, but she died giving birth to her son. After losing both her and his fiancee, Scrooge grew bitter and used money to comfort himself, saying money was better than people. Since he had been abused and abandoned by authority figures and loved ones, it’s no surprise he doesn’t want to get close to anyone again.

Hating People

It seems like Scrooge spent many Christmases alone in his childhood. That’s likely what he associates Christmas with as an adult, which explains why he dislikes the holiday. To him, Christmas is just another day of the year.

Scrooge squinting in sunlight

The holiday likely feels shallow and misleading to him. People are chattering about the importance of family at Christmas, shouting holiday greetings, and asking for money. For Scrooge, this is all nonsense, and he can’t understand why others would like Christmas and be so cheery about it. (Though he doesn’t think people shouldn’t celebrate Christmas as they like, as evidenced here.) Had he spent Christmases differently as a child, perhaps his views would be different.

None of this is meant to excuse Scrooge’s actions but rather to suggest reasons for them. In the end, he realized the error of his ways and worked to fix them. He was likely never a true misanthrope, but he developed the tendencies of one to protect himself from further pain.

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