Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is published on December 19, 1843.
In short,

Office, day before Christmas
Mean old man, calling it “humbug" refuses nephew’s invitation to Christmas dinner.

In bed that night
Mean old man is visited by ghost of one-time partner, is warned to change his ways.
Ghost of Christmas Past takes mean old man on “tour” of happier times in his youth, a reminder of what was.
Ghost of Christmas Present takes mean old man out to see the joy in the world around him.
Ghost of Christmas Future shows mean old man his ultimate demise, dishonored by his fellow men, if he doesn’t change his ways.

Christmas morning
Scrooge awakens, no longer mean old man, but rather a kind, generous and benevolent old man whom everyone is bound to love.
(How likely is that?)

And yet this story has endured, has never been out of print, has been dramatized, bowdlerized, sanitized, and digitized; presented on paper, on stage, on celluloid, in paintings and in drawings, and via electronics.

It is considered a “classic” and scarce there be a person in the Western World who has not been exposed to the story.

As much as anything, I think (note how I gave you a “heads-up”? Opinion coming!) Dickens was hoping to see an infusion of joy into the Christmas Season, which had fallen into a state of dour and somber observation rather than joyous celebration; and, Dickens was hoping to draw the attention of the “better’ classes of people” to the plight of the poor and down-trodden. And in so doing, he wrote a story that bids fair to live in perpetuity, with which even small children to this day are familiar.
(How likely is that?)


Lin said...

For some reason, I'm not big on this story...although it's counterpart--It's a Wonderful Life is high on my list of favorites. Maybe it's ghosts at Christmastime...I don't like ghosts. But now, angels....and that silly Clarence....

Shelly said...

We just read this in my 8th grade class. Dicken's personal background leaves me with my mouth hanging open, and that he went on to write such wonderful, timeless pieces like this proves again that good can come out of bad.

vanilla said...

Lin, I have no problem with the "ghosts" in the story, because I don't believe in ghosts and I can pretty much keep fantasy and reality separate in my mind. Angels, on the other hand, I do believe in!

Shelly, I mean, the kid earned a shilling a day for 12 hours hard work, and did it six days a week. How bad could it be?

Jacquelineand.... said...

Thanks so much for your kind Christmas wishes...Happy and blessed Christmas to you and yours!

Grace said...

My take-away from the story has always been "I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."

vanilla said...

Jacquelineand, and we thank you!

Grace, I believe you've got it! I try to remember, too, that "We forge the chains we wear in life."

Pearl said...

Saw this as a play two winters ago and it gave me chills. What a great story --and what a great reminder.


Sharkbytes said...

I wrote a long comment but I guess blogger ate it. I like the story, and productions of it when they are done well. My favorite take-off is Scrooged with Bill Murray. It might be over the satirical line for you- it's a little raw, but hilarious and the ending has the classic sentiment.

vanilla said...

Shark, don't you just hate it when you write a wonderful thing and *poof!* it disappears into...?
The story has been told and re-told; yet it retains its charm and meaning.

vanilla said...

Pearl, whether or not Dickens set out to write a classic Christmas tale, he certainly accomplished that!