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Mr & Mrs Cratchit: Character Analysis (animated and updated)

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Scrooge’s clerk, Bob Cratchit, represents
the exploited, underpaid, yet hard-working employee. Despite Scrooge’s miserly ways, Bob toasts
him, declaring him ‘the Founder of the Feast’. With this action, Dickens draws the attention
of the reader to Bob’s Christian generosity of human spirit in the face of financial hardship
and ill treatment. This is heightened by Mrs Cratchit’s contrasting
attitude to Scrooge: ‘I wish I had him here. I’d give him a piece of my mind to feast upon,
and I hope he’d have a good appetite for it.’ Her righteous indignation is only calmed by
her husband reminding her that it is Christmas. Through dialogue, Dickens sets expectations
about forgiveness and goodwill to others at this time of year. Dickens depicts Bob as a dedicated employee,
even though Scrooge treats him badly. At the start of the novella, we see how he
is unable to keep himself warm at work. Bob wears a ‘comforter’ (scarf) and tries
‘to warm himself at the candle’. We also learn that ‘Scrooge had a very small
fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn’t replenish it, for Scrooge
kept the coal-box in his own room’. By showing us what Bob is wearing, what Bob
is doing and explaining why he is so cold, Dickens invites the reader to feel empathy
for Bob and to criticise Scrooge, who clearly has no concern for Bob’s comfort or welfare. Despite being a downtrodden employee, Bob
has resilience. Leaving Scrooge’s office at the end of the
day, he ‘ran home to Camden Town as hard as he could pelt, to play at blindman’s-buff’. He finds comfort and joy in his family and
is excited about Christmas. Dickens introduces Mrs Cratchit by drawing
attention to her poverty: she is ‘dressed out but poorly in a twice-turned gown, but
brave in ribbons, which are cheap and make a goodly show for sixpence’. Despite wearing a dress so old that it has
been taken apart, turned inside out and resewn twice, she still makes an effort with her
appearance. Her effort to mark Christmas day with ‘ribbons’
contrasts with Scrooge’s cold, bare rooms and lack of decoration. Her role is defined by others as Bob’s ‘good
wife’. Bob reports after the future Tiny Tim’s
death that Fred has expressed his condolences: ‘I am heartily sorry for it, Mr. Cratchit,’
he said, ‘and heartily sorry for your good wife.’ By the bye, how he ever knew that, I don’t
know.” “Knew what, my dear?” “Why, that you were a good wife,” replied
Bob. “Everybody knows that!” said Peter. “Very well observed, my boy!” cried Bob. “I hope they do. ‘Heartily sorry,’ he said, ‘for your
good wife. This conversation conforms to contemporary
attitudes of the time towards married women, who were judged by their role in relation
to a husband. An obedient wife was praised. Dickens might be drawing attention to this
point because of his experiences with his mother who, seeing the value of an extra income,
was very reluctant for him to leave his job at Warren’s Blacking Warehouse after his
father had been released from debtors’ prison. Dickens later wrote: ‘I never afterwards
forgot, I never shall forget, I never can forget, that my mother was warm [lukewarm]
for my being sent back [home]’. These feelings of being betrayed by his mother
contribute towards his beliefs that a husband should be the decision maker, and his wife
should be obedient and submissive. Nevertheless, Mrs Cratchit does have an opinion
about Scrooge, which she freely expresses at the Christmas dinner: ‘I wish I had him
here. I’d give him a piece of my mind to feast upon,
and I hope he’d have a good appetite for it’. At the time, it was commonly believed that
women were ruled by their emotions and not capable of ‘rational’ thought. When Dickens describes Mrs Cratchit’s emotional
outburst, this therefore conforms to contemporary ideas about women. We have already discussed how her comment
contrasts with Bob’s, emphasising Bob’s Christian generosity of human spirit in the
face of financial hardship and ill treatment. Dickens also positions Mrs Cratchit with her
righteous indignation as a loyal wife. It is understandable that she dislikes Scrooge
because she sees how hard her husband works for him, yet he is not rewarded for his effort. In order to appreciate her character more
fully, we need to look at Bob’s response to her criticism of Scrooge:
“My dear,” was Bob’s mild answer, “Christmas Day.” She only backs down when her husband—head
of the household, moral leader, capable of logic—reminds her of the religious significance
of the day. Her wedding vows would have been to ‘love,
honour and obey’ her husband. Reluctantly, she obeys her husband, as every
(in Dickens’s opinion) ‘good wife’ should. Let’s consider the historical context here:
In 1843, married women had no legal rights: * • A woman was first the legal possession
of her father and then that of her husband (this is the origin of the tradition of a
bride being given away by her father at a church wedding). * • When a woman married, everything she
owned belonged to her husband. * If she earnt any money, she was not allowed
to keep it—she had to pass it to her husband. Being the mother of six children would have
made it difficult for Mrs Cratchit to work outside the home—if her husband had allowed
her. Financially, she is totally dependent upon
her husband. This shows how important it is for Bob Cratchit
to keep his job. Well I hope you found this video useful. Everything I go through in this video series
can be found in the second edition of Mr Bruff’s Guide to A Christmas Carol. The links are in the description – you can
pick up a copy. Please do subscribe, and like the video.

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9 thoughts on “Mr & Mrs Cratchit: Character Analysis (animated and updated)”

  1. Mandy 14 says:

    Will you be making more videos on A Christmas Carol soon?

  2. AbsoluteTV says:

    Yo he's backk!!

  3. InfernoCurry says:

    Mr Bruff I made a Macbeth Ambition paragraph. Could you grade it out of 30 and tell me if it is full marks!

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JA6Iia_M998kfOk9ObOD_luCe8a1siaxDhw1gxIjXrQ

  4. Ebvita A says:

    Thank you

  5. Libby Kaye says:

    please can you do a video on macbeth context

  6. Hiba Jahan says:

    Can you make videos on Romeo & Juliet please?

  7. Anab Ismail says:

    Do you still do student exemplar videos? I was planning on sending an essay on An Inspector Calls in.

  8. KS 29 says:

    Could u do a video which explains what kind of vocabulary do use because my writing is good but my teacher says it's not sophisticated enough for a top grade answer .

  9. Grandeloveyuh says:

    Is there going to be any more videos on the sign of four?

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