Why Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol makes no sense to me…
Holy hell, it's been MONTHS since my last blog entry! Time for a new one!
In honor of this season, I shall discuss something that has been on my mind for quite some time. It concerns the classical Christmas story called A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. We all know what it is about, as movies are made of this story in many, many different versions, including muppets, Disney characters, cartoon cavemen and talking cartoon Dalmatian puppies. Basically, there should be a new Internet rule: If it exists, it has done its own version of A Christmas Carol. I’m surprise they haven’t done a version featuring household appliances yet!
The key thing that makes me confused is basically the miserly character, Ebenezer Scrooge. The story paints him to be this selfish bastard who doesn’t care about anything but himself and money, and does not shudder at the thought that countless hungry poor people might die. After berating Bob Cratchett, he goes back home and thus begins his supernatural journey.
But before we revisit each, let me say this. Am I the only one who doesn’t see Scrooge as that much of a bad guy? Okay, yeah, he’s a bit of a dick, he doesn’t treat Bob Cratchett right, chews out his nephew, and tells the donation company to go screw themselves, but…I don’t know. I guess after seeing it over and over again, I grow to sympathize with Scrooge and see him more as a bitter, broken man who no longer expects anything good to happen. That may have been the point of the story, I’m not sure, but that’s how I saw it.
My issue with this: All that supernatural time-travel to get Scrooge to become a better person…wouldn’t that instead just solidify the reason he hated Christmas in general?
Basically, to recap his past: His father hated him and did not want him to enjoy Christmas at home. BAM! A good a reason as any to hate Christmas, as he associates Christmas with his father’s cruelty. Oh, sure, there was that one small bright spot where he and his friends party with Mister Fezziwick, his old boss, but soon after, Scrooge revisits the moment his fiancée left him. On Christmas.
See the picture? Aside for maybe one or two happy moments, Christmas, from what we’ve seen, did NOT treat Scrooge kindly. His father was implied to not give a rat’s ass about his boy, telling him he was not welcomed home to celebrate Christmas with the family. Imagine that. A holiday that’s supposed to be about the Christmas joy, and the love of family, and his dad is giving him the cold shoulder. Already, Child!Scrooge has emotional baggage to lug around in his subconscious. Then, on a Christmas years later, his fiancée walks off on him. Yes, she had good reasons to do so, but think about how much that screwed him up mentally.
How is revisiting those two painful moments of Scrooge’s life suppose to help him see the light? If anything else, he should’ve turned around and said to Ghosty Uno, “Hey, thanks for reminding me why I hated Christmas to begin with. Can we go home now?”
This is how I saw the past: Scrooge had no concept of Christmas joy, as his father repeatedly kept giving him the cold shoulder every year. He learned from a young age, apparently, that humans were selfish, and that perhaps this ‘joy’ thing was merely a façade. No one truly cared for each other. In order to survive, he must’ve thought, he had to act cold, hard, and selfish. He tried to find some happiness, but his nature got in the way and his fiancée left him. On Christmas.
Oh, and didn’t his beloved sister also die on Christmas one year? Because she was too happy?
Scrooge is rightfully convinced that the world is cold, cruel, uncaring. He associates Christmas with neglect and tragedy. No wonder he’s so miserable every Christmas, as he is constantly having to be reminded of his father’s emotional absence when he was a child, the death of his sister, and his fiancée walking off on him.
With all this in mind, I feel pretty bad for Scrooge, and do not understand the insanity of the next two dreams.
In the second dream, Scrooge is whisked to the Cratchett household by this obese ghost who I shall call ‘Fatty the Ghost’. Anyway, Fatty the Ghost shows Scrooge the Cratchetts struggling to get through one more night, and in come dear old Tiny Tim, the poor, crippled child with a horrible disease that’ll kill him in a year. He’s thin, pale, and hobbling on a lone walking stick that looks as if it’ll break in two. You’re obviously supposed to feel sorry for this boy.
Fatty the Ghost then…starts to berate Scrooge, implying that Scrooge did not care about Tiny Tim, citing that the boy’s death will only improve the “surplus population”. He quotes what Scrooge told the donation people verbatim.
My thought? Scrooge didn’t know! How could he have known that Cratchett had a son? A disabled son at that? Scrooge’s comment was aimed at the general population, not someone specific. He didn’t go to Cratchett and say, “I hope your cripple dies! It’ll make things better for everyone!”
One careless comment about the general population, and he’s painted to be this monster who would laugh at the idea of Tiny Tim giving up the ghost (no pun intended) because his family is poor and thus can’t get him help.
Before Fatty the Ghost slams him with that quote, Scrooge says some lines that imply he has a hint of sympathy for the boy. He asks if the boy would survive, and that if there were anything that could be done for him.
But Fatty the Ghost just quotes what Scrooge said earlier. Uh, dude? The guy just asked you if there were anything that could be done. Instead of making him feel even more guilty and miserable, try offering some tips like, “Well, you could offer some of your money to them so they can pay for a physician to look at the boy.” That’s what I would’ve done if I were Fatty the Ghost. Encouraged Scrooge to be a hero. To be their personal savior. If they want him to be a good man, entice that goodness within him.
But no, he instead makes this broken, bitter, confused man guilty, and gives him a good reason as any to get pissed off again. Seriously! He just saw a disabled kid, and, for what must be the first time in years, is trying to find a way to make things right, and all you do, Fatty Ghost is land him with that line? Take that as an opportunity, man! If someone I knew who was like Scrooge began to show signs of change, I would NOT try to guilt-trip him and make him angry. I would encourage him to continue with his new path, forget the old times and start again. In Scrooge’s case, I would’ve told him, “Yes, Scrooge. There is one person who can help them. One person with the power to make sure that boy lives. And that person is you. You will be his savior." Yeah, okay, cheesy, and Scrooge would likely raise his eyebrows at me, but at least I hope he'd get the message!
My point is that by guilt-tripping Scrooge, Fatty the Ghost was risking making Scrooge become just as hateful and spiteful as he always had been. In his mind, the world is uncaring. The Christmas Joy is a façade. No one is good. No one is kind. Everyone is cruel. People die. There is no point in trying to be a better person. Why should he try? Why should he bother? People will just continue to hate him. Forever. Goodness is only met with death and misery! He already knows all that. He doesn’t see any other avenue, doesn’t see any other way. How can he be a good person? He doesn’t know HOW to be a good person.
And here’s something else I don’t understand. Why Tiny Tim? Why is it taking just one disabled kid that Scrooge has never met before to suddenly make him have a change of heart? Keep in mind that this is a man with decades of anger against the holiday for obvious reasons. How could seeing a disabled kid get him to change? Why did Tiny Tim need to be disabled? But let’s move on.
The third dream just takes the cake. Basically, Scrooge is shown that he’ll die alone and unloved, and he’ll be burning in Hell for all eternity.
So, let’s recap. We’ve got a broken, bitter man who does not see the joy in anything being reminded of why he got angry in the first place. He's being called a bastard who would dance on the graves of disabled dead kids, and finally being told that he would die alone and unloved, in a grave separated from everyone else; and his soul would be raked across the charcoals by demons forever.
What. The. Hell.
No, seriously, what the hell? How would any of this help him to be a better person? How, pray tell, would this inspire him to then run out and promote Bob Cratchett and, through implication, help figure out a way to save Tiny Tim?
If anything else, this should’ve absolutely solidified his belief that there is no such thing as good. That it is impossible to be good, because the world will just bend you over its knee and give you a once over. Christmas is a horrible time. It’s filled with nothing but tragedy and despair. That is what he thinks. And the Spirits do nothing to help him.
Yeah, okay, I get it, he is a miserly, selfish old man, but the flashbacks to when he was younger should tell you that he wasn’t born this way. The world constantly screwed him over. His father did not care for him for most of the boy’s life, his sister dies, and his fiancée leaves him.
So, what’s the moral here? In order to get an already bitter man to change, you need to tell him that no one loves him? Everyone wants him to die alone? And when he’s told that enough times, he’ll start changing? Really?
If I were the Spirits guiding Scrooge, I would’ve, again, used positive encouragement to get him to see that while life had been cruel to him, he has the power to change his own ways. He doesn’t have to be that way anymore. I would show him Tiny Tim and say, “See that boy? If you help him, he will be immensely grateful.” Then show Scrooge a future where he did change and helped people, even if the only people he helped was the Cratchett family. Show him that Christmas doesn’t always have to be bleak and dark. Maybe show him a scene where it has him with the Cratchetts a few years later, all happy (for the most part) and exchanging gifts. Scrooge becoming sort of a surrogate grandfather for Tiny Tim and the other children. Oh, and Tiny Tim is no longer tiny, and no longer looks close to death. Because of what Scrooge has done.
But the way they did it in the story? I’m sorry, but that just gave Scrooge even more reasons to be angry at the world.
Thoughts? Am I looking into this too much?
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