While Scrooge’s redemption involves some good deeds—the Muppets and Dickens both have him, moments after awakening from his last ghostly journey, buy a Christmas turkey for Bob Cratchit’s family and make a donation to the philanthropists he earlier spurned—it would be a mistake to attribute his redemption to his own work. When he promises to “honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year,” he is accepting the gift that he has been given, an act as important in his moral transformation as his own turn toward generosity. He places himself in debt—to his damned friend who has intervened for him; to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come; and to his nephew, whose consistently refused hospitality Scrooge at last accepts.

Having dedicated his life to demanding the repayment of debts, Scrooge incurs a debt he cannot repay. It is not enough to reject his old rules; he must become guilty before them as he reckons with his guilt under the standard he now accepts. That guilt, like this debt, will always remain. His redemption is also a fall. But under the new rules, debt becomes gift. Everything has changed.

B. D. McClay. I love this reading of Scrooge as recipient of unmerited grace. Dickens’s instincts for theological themes were really excellent.