Thursday, December 1, 2011

"There is nothing on which it is so hard as...

...poverty, and there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth." ~Ebenezer Scrooge (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843)

A Christmas Carol: Reviewed
 Ghost of Christmas Past by ftongl:

Some of my fellow writers/critiquers have read this story several times. I'm not sure I ever read it in its entirety. I think I only ever saw the various films or plays based on the novel. So, perhaps unlike many of my friends who have read tale this before, I took particular joy in soaking up the prose.     

While the language and writing of the period were difficult (and sometimes cumbersome) to read, I found the prose very visual. I think if I had not seen the films and/or the plays, this story would have played out in my mind much like the many renditions of it were portrayed.

The descriptions of Scrooge, Jacob Marley on the face of the door knocker, the exclamation 'humbug', and the description of Marley's ghost wrapped in chains and various cash-boxes were consistent all around. I found it pleasant to read what I'd 'seen' before, in part, because of the consistency the story and the films carried along with them.

Some things I noted that differed from the movies/plays:

Scrooge took his evening meal in a Tavern and not at home. I used to wonder about this as I watched the movies because I couldn't fathom Scrooge fixing dinner for himself, cleaning his own dishes or paying for a maid to clean his home. And I didn't know that he lived in Jacob Marley's old home. Cinema made it look as if Scrooge lived in a large wealthy house (albeit austere) but the book leads the reader to believe he had a modest residence.

I found it interesting that at the beginning of the book, Bob Cratchit's name was not used. In film, and in plays, his name is used to define and describe the character but at the beginning of the story it is not used, almost as if to emphasize how little Ebenezer cared to focus on the 'personal' of life of others.

As the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge out to where he had once been a boy, Charles Dickens takes a moment to describe the numerous smells that Ebenezer encountered which I thought was brilliant. Film does not portray this, but it is significant because our human memories are strongly linked to the sense of smell.

The Cratchit house and events were more elaborately described in the novel, and the descriptions of the miners and the men at sea were additional pieces I'd not seen/heard before. And the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is initially titled a Phantom, which is an eerie name to use for the spectral figure compared to what I've heard the Spirit called before.

These are just a few examples, but I do want to say that although the writing is a reflection of the timeperiod, and sometimes difficult to follow, I thought the overall text was extremely well written. Dickens placed very clear images in my head with most of his paragraphs/descriptions, and I was amazed how he did this with (seemingly) very little effort.

I didn't expect to enjoy this book. So many films, so many plays, led me to think I would find the narrative boring or uninteresting. But the novel was far from my expectations.  Tiny Tim made me cry, my heart went out to Ebenezer despite his 'humbug' self, and in the end I realized that it is never too late for any of us to change as long as we have our very last breath to take in this world.

So, whether we believe in god, or a goddess, or take refuge in the Buddha, or whether we follow a prophet or simply hug our own humanity...our compassion toward each other can be found inside ourselves whenever we choose to see it. And whenever we open our eyes to a brand new day, we are given the opportunity to change and make change. It is only 'choice' that keeps us from growing, or allows us to reach out and grasp a new beginning.

And so that is what it means to me when Tim says, "God bless us, everyone!" 



  1. Great Post :D
    Thought you might like my alternative machinima version of A Christmas Carol