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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 1 Issue 21 | December 31, 2006 |


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Classic Corner

A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol is a Victorian morality tale of an old and bitter miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who undergoes a profound experience of redemption over the course of one evening. Mr. Scrooge is a financier/money-changer who has spent his life concentrating on the accumulation of wealth and little else. He holds anything other than wealth in contempt including friendship, love and the Christmas season.

The story begins by establishing that Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge's business partner in "Scrooge & Marley," was deadthe narrative begins seven years after his death to the very day, Christmas Eve. Scrooge and his clerk Bob Cratchit are at work in the counting-house with Cratchit stationed in the poorly heated "tank," a victim of Scrooge's stinginess. Scrooge's nephew Fred comes in to wish his uncle a "Merry Christmas" and invite him to Christmas dinner the next day. Two "portly gentlemen," collecting charitable donations for the poor, come in right after, but they are rebuffed by Scrooge, who points out that the Poor Laws and workhouses are sufficient to care for the poor. When Scrooge is told that many would rather die than go there Scrooge mercilessly responds, "If they would rather die ... they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population." At the end of the workday Scrooge grudgingly allows Cratchit to take Christmas Day off, but to be all the earlier to work on the day after.

Scrooge leaves the counting-house and eventually returns to his home, an isolated townhouse formerly owned by his late business partner, Jacob Marley. In keeping with his miserly character, Scrooge lives in a small suite of largely unfurnished rooms within the house which he keeps dark and cold (the rest of the building he has let out as office space). While he unlocks his door Scrooge is startled to see the ghostly face of Marley instead of the familiar appearance of his door knocker. This is just the beginning of Scrooge's harrowing night. A spectral hearse charging up the broad staircase in the dark, the sliding of bolts and slamming of doors elsewhere in the house, and the inexplicable ringing of the ancient and neglected bell pull system precedes a visit from Marley as Scrooge eats his gruel by the fireplace. Marley has come to warn Scrooge that his miserliness and contempt for others will subject him to the same fate Marley himself suffers in death, condemned to walk the earth in penitence since he had not done it in life in concern for mankind. A prominent symbol of Marley's torture is a heavy chain wound round his form that has attached to it symbolic objects from Marley's life fashioned out of heavy metal: ledgers, money boxes, keys, and the like. Marley explains that Scrooge's fate might be worse than his because Scrooge's chain was as long and as heavy as Marley's seven Christmases ago when Marley died, and Scrooge has been adding to his with his selfish life. Marley tells Scrooge that he has a chance to escape this fate through the visitation of three more spirits that will appear one by one. Scrooge is shaken but not entirely convinced that the foregoing wasn't a hallucination, and goes to bed thinking that a good night's sleep will make him feel better.

The Ghost of Christmas Present, show him the meagre Christmas celebrations of the Cratchit family, the sweet nature of their crippled son, Tiny Tim, and a possible early death for the child; this prospect is the immediate catalyst for his change of heart. They also show the faith of Scrooge's nephew in his uncle's potential for change, a concept that slowly warms Scrooge to the idea that he can reinvent himself.

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