I wasn’t sure how I wanted to analyze Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Should I write about it through a historical context or through the modern context that is really all I know. You can study the past as much as you like, but it’s always through a lens of modernity. For this reason, I decided to look at the story as I would any story published today.
First off, I enjoyed Dickens’s story; it is a quick read with few flaws, in my opinion. Scrooge is famous for being a scrooge. (I wonder where that word came from. Joking aside, it’s theorized it came from the word “scrouge.”) Scrooge doesn’t treat people well, cares for money and little else. He does have a backstory, though, that explains why he became such a despicable person. Dickens sets up the backstory in an original way, in that rather than providing an infodump, his past is incorporated into the narrative by way of a ghost who takes him there, or at least lets him view it.
Scrooge wasn’t really all that bad when he was younger, but he has always loved money, which pushes away his fiancée. He was a lonely child, but, thanks to his surrogate father, it didn’t seem to affect him as much as it could have. Perhaps his greed ended up being the root of his future sins, that and the death of Marley, which impacted him greatly.
Stave Two and Three are areas where I do have some difficulty believing Scrooge and his character. He’s a miser, mean-spirited, greedy, and cares for only himself; however, there are times he shows remorse or even somewhat repents during his travels with the second spirit. It doesn’t stick, but it seems instantaneous. Now, would Scrooge act or feel this way in reality, especially this soon in the narrative? His intense apathy, even hatred at times, for others seems like it would prohibit such contradictory emotions after very little revelation. For the average person, the revelations would be huge, but no so with Scrooge. He’s see suffering, suffered himself, caused much as well, so why does he feel this way so quickly? Sure, he only shows it for very brief moments, but it still pulled me out of the story.
I enjoyed Stave Four the most, and it’s where the reader also gets to see Dickens’s ability to provide humor during serious scenes. This could ruin a story if not done right, but Dickens is a master for a reason. Ultimately, Scrooge gets to see what happens after he dies. One of my favorite parts of the story is when he discovers no one will attend his funeral except for local businessmen, and only if they are provided with a lunch. This, I found, to be hilarious. Furthermore, all his possessions are taken away and sold; not a single person cares for him enough to take care of his grave after he passes; he lived a life alone and full of greed and possessions, but dies alone without even his possessions to comfort him.
Scrooge turns his life around after seeing what will come if he doesn’t. But does Scrooge really deserve salvation? One thing I kept asking myself while reading this is how often ghosts help others out? You know, ones who may be on the wrong path, but haven’t quite been so miserable as Scrooge? Do people with lesser sins suffer a fate worse than what Scrooge will eventually face because he was given the opportunity to view his life in advance? I think this is what troubled me the most during my reading, that Scrooge is saved while others may never be.