Have you ever had an ambition for a goal, for an occupation, for fame, or to make an impact on the world in some important way? Ambition is an interesting topic to analyze because of the ways it changes people’s lives. Ambition can be either destructive or beneficial because it depends on how you use that ambitious behavior. Scrooge, for example, from “ A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens, is a good example of having both destructive and beneficial ambitious behaviors. Scrooge demonstrates his ambition and we can see evidence of this through his actions, appearance, speech and other characters’ reactions.
The destructive sides of Scrooge’s ambitious actions are shown in the beginning of the story, “...but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and so solemnised it with an undoubted bargain.” (Charles Dickens 7). We see that Scrooge is so ambitious and destructive to himself, that he is working on the very day of Marley’s funeral to catch a deal. He doesn't take time to even mourn Marley, his partner when he passes away. Another form of his ambition is in his hoarding of money. He doesn't light up his house so he can save more of his money. “Darkness is cheap and Scrooge liked it.” (Charles Dickens 16). Scrooge likes the fact that darkness is cheap. A positive side to ambition is it can be helpful, like ambition towards generosity. Scrooge shows a positive ambition in this case. We even see this positive ambition at the end of the story when he helps himself and the Cratchit family, “Scrooge was better than his word and infinitely more…” (Charles Dickens 76). Scrooge’s heart had changed dramatically and so did his ambition. He chose to give rather than hoard his money for the welfare of others. The things that Scrooge did were ambitious in both a negative and positive way as shown through his actions, like the fact that Scrooge didn’t even flinch at the passing of Marley, his partner. He just continued with his life. Scrooge also doesn't light up his house. To maintain his money, even though it was really dark and cold, Scrooge kept it that way because it helped him with his ambitious ways. And lastly, we see at the end of the book, that Scrooge has altered his ambitions to a beneficial standpoint. He goes out of his way to help the Cratchit family with their struggles.
Another way Scrooge demonstrates ambition is through his appearance. In the beginning of the story, Scrooge appears to have a greedy destructive ambition. “There was an eager, greedy, restless motion in the eye, which showed the passion that had taken root, and where the shadow of the growing tree would fall.”(Charles Dickens 34). We see that in Scrooge’s appearance, “there's a greedy restless motion in his eye”. His passion is taking root and you can see his ambition really clearly in his appearance. His relationship with Belle has changed to a new passion; to greed, and his old self was no more. Money was beginning to be more important to Scrooge. It would become a lifelong ambition. A positive example of his ambition through appearance, is in the end of the story where his ambition changes to generosity, and it becomes beneficial. “He looked so irresistibly pleasant, in word, that three or four good humored fellows said, ‘Good morning, sir! A merry Christmas to you!’” (Charles Dickens 73). Because of his new beneficial ambition, he is happy, and that happiness shows right through him. The three joyful men say ‘Merry Christmas’ to him even though he has a reputation for disliking Christmas. His new ambition is so strong, it shows through his appearance, making it seem is as if they all new about it.
Some of Scrooge's problematic and helpful ambitions are conveyed through his speech, like when he asks, “What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older and not an hour richer;” (Charles Dickens 10). His destructive ambition is much more important to Scrooge than Christmas. He believes that everyone should be able to support themselves like he does, and he doesn't understand why Christmas could do anything but do harm to their financial problems. Later in the story, Scrooge realizes that he can do better if he gives rather than hoards. His ambition was originally to hoard money but he realizes it’s better to have an ambition to be generous. It was more beneficial. “I’ll raise your salary and endeavour to assist your struggling family” (Charles Dickens 76). Here you can see both examples of ambition through his speech.
Last of all, we can see the example of Scrooge’s ambition from other characters’ reactions; the downsides and the upsides of ambition. An example of a destructive ambition for Scrooge that affected other people, in which we see their reactions, is in the case of Belle. She tells Ebenezer Scrooge, “...[I matter] to you, very little. Another idol has displaced me;.... ‘What idol has displaced you?’ He rejoined. ‘A golden one.’(Charles Dickens 34). Belle feels replaced because of Scrooge's ambition towards money. Scrooge still loves Belle, but in this part of the story he is forced into making a decision between Belle and his money hoarding. He ends up taking the destructive path through ambition; the path with more money. We also have Mrs Cratchit's point of view of Scrooge’s destructive ambition. “I’ll give you Mr Scrooge!, the Founder of the Feast!’ ‘The Founder of the Feast indeed!’ cried Mrs. Cratchit, reddening. ‘I wish I had him here. I’d give him a piece of my mind to feast upon, …It should be Christmas Day, I am sure,’ said she, ‘on which one drinks the health of such an odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man as Mr. Scrooge.” (Charles Dickens 48). As you can see, Mrs Cratchit doesn't even really like Scrooge but she also doesn't like his negative ambition. She dislikes these things about Scrooge because it's brought their family down financially. Because of Scrooge, Bob Cratchit doesn't get very much money. Scrooge changes his ambition towards beneficial things like generosity in the end of the story. When this alteration happened within Scrooge, he disarmed some charity workers’ expectations because they knew Scrooge as a man of money, “Lord bless me’ cried the gentleman, as if his breath were taken away.” (Charles Dickens 74). When Scrooge gave the charity lots of money, they were astounded at the change that had happened in him. Throughout the story, we see characters reacting to Scrooge’s ambitions in negative and positive ways.
In Scrooge's life, ambition has been both destructive and beneficial to himself, his friends and even the town. Because of these ambitions, they had driven him into solitude and greed. They also brought him back to the real world and what it means to have Christmas. Scrooge is ambitious. Throughout the story Scrooge's ambition alters from destructive to beneficial as shown through his actions, appearance, speech and other characters’ reactions in the story. From his actions we can see that Scrooge has been driven by his destructive ambition so much that he didn’t even mourn Marley's death. In the end, it brings him to be so generous that he supported the Cratchit family and gave Tiny Tim the best doctors in England. Scrooge's appearance is described through both sides of his ambition from the start of his destructive behaviour to the start of his beneficial behavior. Charles Dickens also tells us about Ebenezer’s ambitions through his speech; like when he says, ‘What's the point of Christmas? It just gets in my way’. Then he shows his alteration in ambition when he says he will help Bob Cratchit's struggling family. Last of all, other peoples’ reactions toward his ambitions change from them being hurt from it, to benefiting from it. Belle tells Scrooge his desires have changed towards money instead of their relationship, and Mrs Cratchit states her opinions about Scrooge's money hoarding. In the end, Ebenezer’s change to the beneficial side of his ambition surprises the charity workers. So if you ever find yourself pursuing an ambition, take Scrooge as an example, and make sure that your ambition isn’t destructive like it was for Scrooge in the beginning of his story. Perhaps make it beneficial to you and everyone else.