Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol

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  • 0:04 A Jolly Good Fellow
  • 0:59 A Stark Contrast
  • 2:01 A Pointed Lesson
  • 2:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lauren Boivin

Lauren has taught English at the university level and has a master's degree in literature.

This lesson takes a look at the character of Mr. Fezziwig in Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol.' Fezziwig has a small part in the story, but it is an important one. Let's examine how he illustrates some important points.

A Jolly Good Fellow

Charles Dickens can write a delightful description, and he certainly does when telling us of Mr. Fezziwig in his story, A Christmas Carol. Mr. Fezziwig is Scrooge's old boss, and we meet him as the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to review scenes of his life. A few well-placed words help us to see exactly what sort of person Fezziwig is. We read at one point that he ''laughed all over himself,'' which shows us how thoroughly jolly this man is. We also learn that he has ''a comfortable, oily, rich, fat, jovial voice'' that shows us his jolliness is more than skin deep. If we weren't yet convinced that Mr. Fezziwig is a lovely man, when he says things like ''Hilli-ho, Dick!'' and ''Chirrup, Ebenezer!'' it is difficult not to smile. Dickens makes it quite clear that Mr. Fezziwig is the sort of person one wants to be around!

A Stark Contrast

Mr. Fezziwig also serves as a foil to Ebeneezer Scrooge. A foil in literature is a character who stands in stark contrast to another character in order to illustrate particular things. Just as a white circle is more visible when laid against a black background, Mr. Fezziwig's unbounded joyful nature serves to highlight Mr. Scrooge's cranky and dismal personality. One specific instance where this occurs is when Fezziwig can hardly contain his excitement in telling his apprentices to stop working so they can hurry up and start their Christmas party: ''Yo ho, my boys! ... No more work to-night. Christmas Eve, Dick. Christmas, Ebenezer! Let's have the shutters up''!

This reminds us of how very different Mr. Scrooge was with his own clerk, Bob Cratchit, at closing time on Christmas Eve. Scrooge refused to end the day early, he offered no semblance of Christmas greetings to Bob, and he even complained about Bob wanting Christmas day off from work, saying it was ''A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of December!''

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