Robert "Bob" Cratchit is a fictional character in the Charles Dickens 1843 novel A Christmas Carol. The overworked, underpaid clerk of Ebenezer Scrooge, Cratchit has come to symbolise the poor working conditions, especially long working hours and low pay, endured by many working-class people in the early Victorian era.

Bob Cratchit
A Christmas Carol character
Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim as depicted in the 1870s by Fred Barnard
First appearanceA Christmas Carol 1843
Created byCharles Dickens
In-universe information
NicknameBob
GenderMale
OccupationMoney accountant (Clerk)
SpouseMrs. Cratchit (named Emily in some adaptations)
ChildrenMartha
Belinda
Peter
Tiny Tim
an unnamed son (named Matthew in some adaptations)
an unnamed daughter (named Lucy or Gillian in some adaptions)
NationalityEnglish

In the novel

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When Cratchit timidly asks Scrooge for Christmas Day off work so he can be with his family, he notes it only comes once a year. Scrooge reluctantly agrees on the condition that Cratchit comes to work early the day after Christmas.

Cratchit and his family live in poverty[1] because Scrooge is like any other employer at the time. Cratchit's son, Tiny Tim, is very ill.[1] According to the Ghost of Christmas Present, Tim will die because the family is too poor to give him the treatment he needs. While Scrooge is the "ogre" of the Cratchit family, with Cratchit's wife, calling him out for his stinginess, Bob mildly insists that they toast his health for Christmas Day.

After Scrooge decides to change his ways on Christmas Day, he anonymously sends a Christmas turkey to Cratchit for his family's dinner. The next day, Scrooge states that he will increase Cratchit's salary immediately and promises to help his struggling family.

Family

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The Cratchit family has been described as "impoverished, hardworking, and warmhearted".[1]

Seven members are mentioned in the original story, five of whom are named:[1]

  • Mrs. Cratchit, Bob Cratchit's wife,[1] who is named "Emily" in some adaptations.
  • Martha Cratchit,[1] the eldest daughter, who works as an apprentice at a milliners.
  • Belinda Cratchit,[1] the second daughter.
  • Peter Cratchit,[1] the heir, for whom his father is arranging employment at the weekly rate of five shillings and sixpence.
  • Timothy "Tiny Tim" Cratchit. The youngest child, he is desperately ill and walks with a crutch.[1]

Notable portrayals

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Some adaptations have tried to depict Cratchit to have also been the clerk of Jacob Marley, when he was alive.

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The character of Bob Cratchit has been featured in works based on A Christmas Carol.

  • Cratchit by Alexander Knott premiered at London's Park Theatre, with John Dagleish as Bob. The play "explores what might happen if Cratchit was visited by the Ghost of Christmas yet-to-come and shown a bleak vision of the future, where the gap between rich and poor has grown beyond measure."[2][3]
  • The character has been featured in the 2002 musical comedy Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge.

References

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  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster. 1995. pp. 280–281, 1117. ISBN 0-87779-042-6.
  2. ^ "John Dagleish to play titular role in Cratchit at the Park Theatre". WhatsOnStage. 10 November 2021. Retrieved 2022-04-07.
  3. ^ Marcolina, Cindy. "BWW Review: CRATCHIT, Park Theatre". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2022-04-07.