A Christmas Carol
“A Christmas Carol”
by Charles Dickens
On December 19th 1843 Charles Dickens published a book “A Christmas Carol”
Some of you went to see this story retold by Jim Carey and film maker Tim Burton this year. In the last 166 years the book has remained a bestseller at the Christmas season, and their have been countless movies, plays, and readings of the story. It is perhaps the most important Christmas story. It is a story of charity, generosity, and good will towards all men.
It is a Christmas story but in many ways it could be a Halloween story as well, It is a ghost story as much as it is as it is a Christmas story.
It is also a story of social justice and an accurate picture of the terrible lives that the poor of the 1800’s lived at that time.
Charles dickens himself had an interesting childhood that prepared him to write such a story. He lived in England to parents who were middle class. They were a family able to take care and provide for their children. Then tragedy struck when Dickens was 11 his father got into debt, and did not have the money to pay his creditors. He was sent to prison with the whole family except Charles who went to work a a Shoe dye factory, working 15 hour days, in a rat infested factory, among other poor children like himself, that had to work all day,and were treated terribly and paid little.He did this for two years, until his father had paid enough of his debt to be let out of prison. The poverty and suffering he saw at this time he never forgot.
At this factory Charles saw a life in England at that time that had no social programs, where the rich were rich and the poor could suffer and die, as his main character in a Christmas Carol Scrooge suggests they do an decrease the surplus ( extra) population.
The Story is of an older man Ebenezer Scrooge who has worked his way to the top, who only sees money as important and does not care who have to suffer that he may remain rich. Scrooge is a mean and heartless man, or as Doctor Seuss says in his retelling of this story for children “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” , “his heart is two sizes too small”
The setting of a “Christmas Carol” is Christmas Eve 1843 seven years since his partner Jacob Marley has died to the day. We are introduced to a man who has no feeling for his dead partner, his nephew Fred or his suffering clerk Bob Crachit a man with a large family, who is underpaid by Scrooge, and has a very sick crippled child, Tiny Tim,who Bob cannot afford to get medical attention for.
On this evening in his old house Scrooge is visited by Jacob Marley who comes to see Scrooge in chains of money boxes, chains he has made himself in life. Marley tells Scrooge unless he changes his ways he too will have the same fate as Marley. Doomed to roam the earth with heavy chains and money boxes unable to connect with others. He tells him he will be visited by 3 ghosts. Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas future.
They will show Scrooge his life and where he has gone wrong.
Scrooge sees himself as a young man and when he begins to change into a mean and heartless man. He sees how lonely his childhood was and how this has made him a man who never thinks of others. He sees the struggle of his, clerk Bob Crachit’s family, and how just a little of his money could change there lives.
He sees that he has had no love in his life for many years. And he does indeed decide to change.
This story though delightful tells the story of man’s obligation to take care of one another, especially the poor, which was not done in 1843.
People love this story. I love this story. It’s message that we are all responsible to take care of one another changed society in the late 1800 and early 1900’s. It is indeed the perfect message for the Christmas season.