Why did Charles Dickens choose the name Ebenezer Scrooge?

Posted by London Walks on Wednesday, October 12, 2016 Under: Christmas

Why did Charles Dickens choose the name Ebenezer Scrooge?

Charles Dickens was prompted to write A Christmas Carol as his response to the evident evils of capitalism; but it was also an attempt to pay his ever-increasing unpaid bills. Six weeks after visiting Manchester where the fancy first occurred to him, his novella was complete. Dickens was in the event underwhelmed with the profits it generated, but his story went on to become synonymous with the modern Christmas ideal.

The first few paragraphs of the novella set the scene of Ebenezer Scrooge in his counting house on Christmas Eve in London,1843 forging both character and environment together as if at one. So realistic is the character of Ebenezer Scrooge that his name has come to denote someone who is miserly or overly concerned with money.

What does the name Ebenezer mean? Ebenezer is a biblical name (1 Samuel 7:2-4) originating from a stone used by Samuel to commemorate the divine victory over the Philistines, saying, ‘Thus for the LORD has helped us’. The stone became a tangible reminder of the Lord’s power and protection. Dickens chooses his words carefully ' For he was ‘hard and sharp as flint’, linking the name back to the stone of Samuel. Does Dickens use this name to show he has a particular purpose for his main character? Does the name foreshadow another divine victory?

Why would Dickens choose such a name as Scrooge? The onomatopoeia works deliciously well, demonstrating Dickens’ understanding of his audience who would be reading out aloud to the rest of the family. The word is also a blend of ‘scrouge’ the verb to squeeze or to press, used 1820-1830 (itself being a blend of crew and bruise) and gouge, an act of extortion, to swindle, and is also an layer of decomposed rocks or minerals found along the walls of a vein, solidifying the Christian name and surname together.

How does Dickens link Scrooge and his environment? Dickens interlinks the character of Scrooge with the dark, overcrowded and polluted environment of the City of London where he both lives and works, ‘a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping….old sinner.’ He is edging ‘his way along the crowded paths of life’ as everyone else. Survival in early Victorian London is physical and tough.

He is the physical embodiment of the cold winter weather ‘The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheeks, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue.’ He has been ‘nipped’ and ‘shrivelled’, becoming physically less as a result. His movement has stiffened and his thin lips are blue, creating the image of a walking corpse, ‘external heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he’.

Scrooge is also depicted as having power to control the weather for ‘he carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it on degree at Christmas.’

He was unapproachable and no friend to children or animals, for ‘no children asked him what it was o’clock’ and ‘even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts’.

Come with us on our Christmas Carol walking tour in the City of London. Explore the icy alleyways and dark court-yards haunted by Scrooge as he went on his business, wringing money out of his customers, and treating with disdain the poor and those who would try to help them.

Watch our A Christmas Carol walk trailer: ;

  Join a public A Christmas Carol walk or request a private A Christmas Carol tour.

You may also enjoy this related blog post:
Who is your favourite Scrooge?

For your own event or venue to be featured contact Hazel: blog@londonguidedwalks.co.uk

In : Christmas 

Tags: walking  literature  victorian 


"online bookings' cpd #earthrise 17th 1830s 18thcentury 1930s 20th 50th a abbey adele afternoon afternoon tea age ages alastair ancient and animals annie anniversary apps architecture arsenal art arts attack autumn awards baker bank bankside barbican barrier bathhouses battersea bazalgette bear beasts becket bells bexley bishopsgate black blackfriars blackout blitz bloomsbury bombers book books borough bowie breakfast brewery brick bridge britain british bronze bronze age brunch buckingham burger burlesque buses cab cabaret cake canal canary captain care carl carol caroline carols cathedral cemetery cenotaph century chapman charles charlton cheap cheapside cheese childhood chips chiswick chocolate christmas church city city of london clapham clerkenwell cocktails coffee coffeehouses common company concert corporate covent covent garden covid-19 cream crime cross crown cruise crystal danson david davy day december dental deptford dick dickens dinner dinosaurs do dock dockland museum dragons dreamtime druitt earth east eat eating eats ecommerce edward edwardians edwin egypt elizabethan end engineering era ernst event events exhibition exhibitions facebook fair fairytale fall family fantastic farringdon fashion february festival film finance fire first fiscus florence folklore food for francis free friars frost gallery galliard garden george georgian georgians german germany gibb gift girls globe grade great greenhithe greenwich group guided guides gun half hall halsk handel harle harry potter hats havering havering hoard hawksmoor hazel heroes hidden highbury hill hilton history holloway homes hooke hot hotel house housing how humphry i ian ianmcd ice ice cream icelandic ii iii in india inigo isaac islington italian iv jack jack the ripper jack's james jenny jewels john johns jones joseph katharines kelly kenneth kew gardens kids kidstours killer kim king kings kingston lambeth lane lewis lights limestone literature liverpool locations londinium london london bridge london's londoners londonhistory lunch lutyens macaulay magnus management maritime market markets martyr mary match matilda maufe mayfair mcdiarmid measure medical medieval memorial middle military millennium mock-tudor modern modernist montague month monument moorgate mosaic murder murderers museum museum of london docklands music musicals mystery n7 national gallery national history museum ned new newcomen news newton nhs nichols night nightingale nurse of old street oliver open opera paddington palace palaces pancakes pandemic panoramic park parties path pauls people philip photo photograhy photography photos pizza places plague plantation plays plumstead podcast poetry pokemon polly poor pop poplar port poverty prince priory private tours pub public pubs purbeck qe2 queen queenhithe quirky railways recording regency reid religion rembrandt renaissance restoration ripper river road rob robert roman romans roundhouse royal saga saints salute saxon school. science sculpture scupture seacole second serial servants sewers shakespeare shoreditch siemens sir slave slavery small smartphone smith smithfield smithfields soap soho somme south southbank southwark spitalfields spy squirrels ss st statue stories stow street strike stuart stuarts studios subscription suffragettes sugar summer susan sydenham tate taxi tea ten term terror thames thamesmeade the theatre thiepval things things to do thrifty thriftytheatre to toothbrush tour tours tower trade travel truman tudor tudors tumblety twelfth twentieth twist und underground update v&a ve victims victoria victorian victorian london victorians viking virtual vouchers wales walk walking walks wall war water werner west westend westminster wharf wheeler whitechapel wilde wildlife willelm william windrush wine winter women wood woodland woolwich world wyatt york zachary 1666 1888 2019 2020





Site by Hazel  |  Photographs by Hazel or Ian