Many have found the dramatic transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge mysterious, and some have even taken issue with Dickens's reformation of his curmudgeon as wildly implausible. At the heart of the critical debate over Scrooge's change is not only the question of why he changed but also, and more fundamentally, what changed within him. This article argues that Scrooge's newfound magnanimity is made possible by a dramatic but progressive change in the ways he does and does not allow himself to know others. Through a series of close readings, it demonstrates that Scrooge is at first unable to sympathize with others because he restricts his knowledge only to that which he can know through himself and his own experience, and it then traces how his growth in sympathy stems from his burgeoning self-knowledge and subsequent willingness to know others. In the end, however, he must move beyond knowledge and sympathy altogether, embracing the other not in spite of but because of her mystery. Finally, this article briefly observes how Dickens leads his readers on a parallel journey, inviting them to know Scrooge by seeing the ways they are alike and to love Scrooge by accepting what they cannot know.


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pp. 20-39
Launched on MUSE
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