This lesson takes a look at Mrs. Cratchit in ”A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Mrs.
Cratchit’s character shows an interesting blend of resourceful persistence and feisty defiance.
Who Is Mrs. Cratchit?
In A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, we first meet Mrs.
Cratchit in the part of the story where Scrooge is traveling with the Ghost of Christmas Present. We read that she is ‘dressed out but poorly in a twice-turned gown,’ which means she’s wearing a dress that has been made over twice, indicating she isn’t able to buy new clothes. However, we read on to see that, despite this problem, she is ‘brave in ribbons, which are cheap and make a goodly show for sixpence.’ She doesn’t have money for a new dress, but she is making the best of things by using ribbons instead because they are cheap.
We begin to understand that Mrs. Cratchit is used to having scanty means when she shows ‘great delight’ at the fact that there is ‘one small atom of bone’ remaining of their Christmas goose at the end of their feast. Mrs. Cratchit rejoices that ‘they hadn’t et it all at last! Yet everyone had had enough.’ This shows us that not only can the Cratchits not afford new clothes, but a full meal where everyone has enough to eat is also a rare thing. Mrs.
Cratchit shows striking optimism when she is able to be delighted at the simple achievement of a family with full stomachs.
The Cratchit’s Christmas Pudding
The phrase about proof being in pudding means that the evidence of a thing is borne out in actions and whatever fruit they produce. In the way the Cratchit family handles their Christmas pudding, we see proof of the fact that Mrs. Cratchit has raised them well. Mrs. Cratchit brings the pudding out with much pomp and circumstance and all the family admire it. As we read on, we discover this pudding, like all other aspects of their Christmas celebration, is touched by their poverty – but we also see clear evidence that Mrs.
Cratchit’s knack for gratitude and optimism has been heartily ingrained in the children for ‘nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.’
Mrs. Cratchit’s Disdain for Scrooge
After all this cheerfulness, gratitude, and optimism, it is a little surprising to see Mrs. Cratchit have a bit of an outburst when her husband proposes a toast to Mr. Scrooge.
Mrs. Cratchit lets loose with, ‘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.’ Mr. Cratchit tries to reign her in, but she goes on to call Mr. Scrooge ‘an odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man.’ Odious means just awful and despicable.
While Mrs. Cratchit can make do in hard situations and appreciate the good in her life despite the bad, it’s clear she’s no wilting flower. She has ideas and opinions, and she isn’t afraid to voice them!
To review, Mrs. Cratchit in A Christmas Carol is full of optimism and gratitude. She is in a ‘twice-turned gown’ because she can’t afford a new dress, but she makes the best of it with ribbons.
She is delighted after their dinner by the simple fact that they have had enough to eat for a change. When she brings out their (very small) Christmas pudding, all in the family are full of praise for it and none of them mention or lament its smallness, which shows that Mrs. Cratchit has led her family to see things with optimism and gratitude just as she does. She is not all sunshine and roses, however; when Bob Cratchit proposes a toast to Mr.
Scrooge, Mrs. Cratchit voices some strong opinions she has about her husband’s employer, calling him odious, among other things!