“Marley was as dead as a doornail.”
We all know this treasured Christmas story. Scrooge, a cantankerous old bachelor who lives a solitary life and whose sole purpose is to increase his wealth, initially has a vision of his dead partner, Jacob Marley, on his doorknocker. Not one for fancy, Scrooge humbugs his daydream, but when he is visited by Marley’s ghost, which is then succeeded by three other spirits – the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future, Scrooge learns many lessons of what he has lost, what he has become, and his fate if he continues on his selfish and merciless path.
Published in London on December 19, 1843, A Christmas Carol achieved instant recognition and critical acclaim which has never waned. Born out of Dickens’ distress at the plight of the poor and the working conditions of children, A Christmas Carol also came at a time when the British people were reassessing old Christmas traditions as well as bringing in new. At a time when children and adults were viewed as a commodity as workers, with his novella Dickens encouraged a humanity among fellow human-beings, employer and employee alike as if we are all “fellow-passengers to the grave,” and need each other. We are all inter-connected and have the ability to make others’ lives happy or miserable to a lesser and greater extent, depending upon our own actions. With Scrooge, Dickens illustrated a transformation in one human being which mirrored a change that he felt was important for society as a whole to increase both individual and collective happiness.
For me, A Christmas Carol affected me on a more specific level reminding me of an important point. Life can chip away at you, little by little, without you realizing that it’s fundamentally altering who you are as a person. Scrooge, beginning from his life as a boy, faced numerous challenging and tragic circumstances. Instead of taking those circumstances and struggling to apply them for the good of his character, Scrooge allowed them to affect him negatively on an emotional level. Without being aware of the change, slowly Scrooge’s views became more myopic until he could no longer see what was before him and finally “his spirit never strayed outside of his counting house.” Scrooge would look at what was wrong with others, but, until the visit of the spirits, Scrooge never looked at Scrooge.
And so let us all learn a lesson from this old miser-turned philanthropist, that whenever strife or problems come your way, work to turn them to your profit to improve your character and thus, as Tiny Tim says, God bless us, every one ….. 🙂
Ruth at A Great Book Study has a wonderful post about A Christmas Carol and Dickens so check it out.
And here are a few more reviews of Dickens’ stories on Classical Carousel: