Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
Publisher: Special Church Edition, A Christmas Carol originally published 19 December 1843
Genre: Fiction
Labels: Victorian Period, British Literature, Christmas Story
Format: Paperback
Age: Older Child to Adult
Pages: 61
Rating: 5 Stars
A Christmas Carol
Summary:
Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly, grumpy, sour-faced, stooped (at least in personality), older man. He does not have a wife, nor children. Scrooge with relentless venom works his clerk hard at the firm. His business partner Marley had died seven years previous. Scrooge's heart has hardened through the years, but this tough exterior will be melted by a visit from three ghosts: the ghost of Christmas past, the ghost of Christmas present, and the ghost of Christmas yet to come. He actually had an additional ghost visit him, Marley. Marley was the introduction to a night of ghostly visits.
File:Charles Dickens-A Christmas Carol-Title page-First edition 1843.jpg
Review:
This is a story that most people know. Either they've read the story or they've watched the movie.
Two words used in the story are familiar. The term "Scrooge" is synonymous with a miserly selfish person. The term "bah-humbug" is also used in referring to a person that has an indifference or disbelief for something that should give an attitude of joy.
I'm not sure there is anything that I could write for A Christmas Carol that's not been written before. This is a beloved story. I've never met a person who did not at least feel warm-hearted towards Scrooge's change of heart.
I've read this story several times, not every Christmas, but most. While reading it this time I paid close attention to the descriptive details of the three visiting ghosts.
  • Ghost #1-"The Ghost of Christmas Past". The ghost was "like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man", white hair, no wrinkled skin, skin bloomed, tunic was "purest of white", strong arms, a crown of "bright clear jet light" from its head. 
  • Ghost #2-"The Ghost of Christmas Present". "Blaze of ruddy light" (like a fireplace light). Wore a "simple green robe with a white fur border", "chest and feet bare", "holly wreath" on its head, "cheery voice", "sparkling eye", a rusty sheath without a "sword". This was the ghost that had two sorrowful children underneath its robe.
  • Ghost #3-"The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come". A phantom draped and hooded spirit, it "scattered gloom and mystery", garment was black, did not speak but with an "outstretched hand" pointed. This was an ominous ghost, intimidating, mysterious.
With each ghost Scrooge refers to them as an "it". Charles Dickens ghosts do not have gender.
File:Marley's Ghost John Leech, 1843.jpg
Why do I love this story?
  • Ebenezer is given three Christmas gifts, a gift from each of the ghosts. He's given the ability to see where he's been, where he is now, and where he maybe headed. He has a chance to be a different man. A man who is focused on others and not on himself. More importantly he has a chance to make restitution to his fellow family and neighbors.
  • This is a story that children and adults both understand and can identify with.
  • This is a moral story, a teaching story.
  • Dickens writes perfect pithy characters.
Favorite quotes:
"Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!.....The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice." page 1-2
"These are shadows of the things that have been." page 18
"Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread." page 44
"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." page 56
"And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well." page 61

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