A Christmas Carol has been on my classics reading list for the last year. I started reading it a couple of times, but never beyond the first few pages. It happened to me with A Tale of Two Cities as well. Charles Dickens’ novels begin in a very descriptive fashion, which sometimes takes a bit of time to get into as a reader. The story of A Christmas Carol focuses on an old miser, Ebenezer Scrooge. His friend and business partner Jacob Marley appears to him as a spirit and tells him that he will be visited by three ghosts during Christmas time – The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of the Christmas Present, and the Ghost of the Christmas Future.
The story begins on Christmas Eve in London, where Ebenezer Scrooge is sitting in his office counting his money. Jacob Marley is Scrooge’s business partner who died seven years ago, leaving the business completely to Scrooge. His nephew Fred is asking Scrooge to join him and his family for Christmas celebrations, but Scrooge rudely dismisses him. He is mean to his underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit. He dismisses two men who have come to ask for a donation to provide food and warm clothes to the needy children.
When Scrooge comes home that night, he sees the ghost of his dead partner Jacob Marley in this living room. Marley explains how his decisions when alive have affected him in the afterlife, that Scrooge has a chance to right his wrongs. Marley tells him that he will be visited by three ghosts for the next three nights – The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of the Christmas Present, and the Ghost of the Christmas Future. As the names of the Ghosts suggest, they take Scrooge to different points in time to show what happens when he continues the same path he is on.
Time is the main theme of the novella. To summarize, in the past, Scrooge s the lonely boy sitting in the classroom until his sister comes to takes him home. He seems to have a good bond with his sister. He starts doing well in business as he grows up, and his fiancée Belle leaves him when he becomes too money-minded. It gives an insight into the emotional upheavals that lead him to become the person he is.
In the present, he is taken to Fred’s house where even though invisible, Scrooge enjoys the games and festivities. He is also taken to Bob’s house where the overworked clerk is enjoying Christmas with his family; this is where Scrooge realizes that Bob has a son with disabilities who might not live long because Bob can’t afford treatment. In the future, he sees a grave of himself and the death of Bob’s son Tim. He learns the lessons of what his behavior will lead to and makes changes to his life. The character development of Scrooge is depicted so well. It makes Scrooge’s journey more satisfying for the reader.
Another important factor that is present throughout the story is the aspect of a family. Scrooge is close to his sister as children, and in the present, she has passed away, but her son Fred still considers Scrooge family despite his behavior. When Scrooge joins them for the Christmas celebrations, he easily welcomes him into the fold. Bob doesn’t have a lot, but there is a warmth in his family for each other. They are enjoying their holidays to their best capabilities with each other, without any grievances. Jacob Marley is someone who is considered family by Scrooge. The fact that seven years later, the name of the business still has Marley’s name on it says a lot. Both of them were a big part of each other’s life.
The novella starts off a little slow but picks up speed after the first Stave (chapters). The way Charles Dickens writes is remarkable; the setting and the characters are vividly described, which helps create a picture in your head when you read. I enjoyed reading this story.
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