A Christmas Carol


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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

(Creator: Delzi Laranjeira)

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A Christmas Carol

  1. 1. A Christmas Carol- 1843 Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
  2. 2. Romantic/Victorian Contrasts <ul><li>Romantic Era Victorian Era </li></ul><ul><li>Idealism Visionary/Utopian Sober/Utilitarian </li></ul><ul><li>View of Kind/Harmonious Harsh/Cruel </li></ul><ul><li>Nature </li></ul><ul><li>Focus Inward/Individual Outward/Nation Common man Middle class Imagination/ Reality/work </li></ul><ul><li>introspection </li></ul>
  3. 3. Dickens’ concerns <ul><li>Christmas  a holiday of wonder and abundance capable of transcending both sanctimonious Puritan abstinence and the dispiriting single-minded utilitarianism </li></ul><ul><li>To deny the pleasures of this world to oneself or others  to deny the beneficence of creation. </li></ul><ul><li>To value industrialization above human industry and treat one’s fellows as cogs in the commercial machine  to impoverish the spirit and the body of the community that were the lifeblood of progress. </li></ul><ul><li>To pursue profit at all costs  to deny one’s basic humanity and jeopardize, not only one’s place in society, but the survival of society itself. </li></ul><ul><li>A “ Carol philosophy”  “cheerful views, sharp anatomisation of humbug, jolly good temper . . . and a vein of glowing, hearty, generous, mirthful, beaming reference in everything to Home, and Fireside.”  In place of business, mechanization, and utilitarianism, Dickens celebrated imagination, family, and fellow feeling. In place of self-denial and renunciation, Dickens celebrated abundance, hospitality, and the pleasures of life. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Social/economic context <ul><li>The Poor Laws (sponsored by the Benthamites)  debtors and the jobless to prisons or workhouses where families were separated and engaged in the unrewarding labor of breaking rocks or picking strings from old rope to make insulation. They were fed a diet of thin gruel designed to sustain them, barely. Children were 'apprenticed' to industries where they became a source of cheap labor. </li></ul><ul><li>Utilitarianism  &quot;the greatest happiness of the greatest number&quot; . This phrase represents the heart of Utilitarianism (or Benthamism), which attempted to reduce decision-making about human actions to a &quot;felicific calculus&quot; by weighing the profit, convenience, advantage, benefit, emolument, and happiness that would ensue from the action against the mischief, disadvantage, inconvenience, loss, and unhappiness that it would also entail. </li></ul><ul><li>Thomas Malthus  human population would inevitably grow faster than agriculture's ability to feed it, and so the poor must be restrained from breeding. </li></ul><ul><li>War and famine  legitimate forces that helped keep down population size. </li></ul><ul><li>Just two years after Dickens published &quot;A Christmas Carol,&quot; the Irish population was reduced 25% by the potato famine that killed nearly a million people and the emigration caused by the terrible circumstances that remained afterwards </li></ul>
  5. 5. Utilitarianism <ul><li>The belief that the value of a thing or an action is determined by its utility. </li></ul><ul><li>The ethical theory proposed by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill that all action should be directed toward achieving the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. </li></ul><ul><li>Though the society tried to maintain a moral face, underneath was a heartless philosophy. Chesterton calls this great gap between theory and practice the Victorian Compromise. </li></ul><ul><li>Responsible for &quot;atheist industrialism&quot; and the worship of wealth. Utilitarianism was already whispering about breeding the poor, hinting at infanticide and murmuring at &quot;the folly of allowing the unfit to survive.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>It was in this context that the great writers of the Victorian era wrote. Almost all of them reacted against Utilitarianism, but from a variety of perspectives and with a variety of results. They knew something fundamental had been lost from their society, and they were trying to grasp it. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Structure <ul><li>Title: Dickens saw his tale as one to be heard and shared, as Christmas carols spread joy and bring people together </li></ul><ul><li>The Staves- part of the musical imagery, each chapter is a stave </li></ul><ul><li>A carol  is a song of joy or praise. It is often intended to teach something. In this case, the praise is of Christmas and how it is able to make people forget their troubles, and of Scrooge because he changes his ways. A stave is a section of the music where the mood is all the same. At each stave, there is a different mood. This is the case in A Christmas Carol , where each stave has a definite message and mood. </li></ul><ul><li>Point of View  Mainly in the third person, with a touch of a first person narrator. </li></ul><ul><li>Setting  London and Scrooge’s cold, dark house. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Time is very important in A Christmas Carol, which is structurally centered around distinct elements of Past, Present, and Future. But, the time scheme of the story itself seems to make little sense. On Christmas Eve, Jacob Marley's ghost tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts on three successive nights. On Christmas morning, Scrooge awakes, having already been visited by all three ghosts. </li></ul><ul><li>The three nights seem to be compressed into a single night. The presence of the spirits apparently bends the normal flow of time. A view further supported b y the fact that Scrooge goes to bed at two o'clock in the morning after Marley's visitation and awakes at midnight the same night--two hours after he fell asleep. Dickens uses the temporal inconsistencies to emphasize the supernatural powers of the spirits--when they are around, normal earthly standards, including the flow of time, have no effect. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Allegory  A narration or description usually restricted to a single meaning because its events, actions, characters, settings, and objects represent specific abstractions or ideas. </li></ul><ul><li>Each stave has a fixed meaning: </li></ul><ul><li>Scrooge  greed, selfishness, indifference, and a lack of consideration for one's fellow man </li></ul><ul><li>Ghost of Christmas Past  memory </li></ul><ul><li>Ghost of Christmas Present  charity, empathy, and the Christmas spirit </li></ul><ul><li>The reaper-like Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come  the fear of death </li></ul><ul><li>A Christmas Carol  moral ideals associated with Christmas: generosity, kindness, and universal love for your community-and of Victorian England in general. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Characters <ul><li>Belle  Scrooge's old girlfriend. Years ago, she broke her relationship off with him because she felt that he had changed for the worse. </li></ul><ul><li>Bob Cratchit  Scrooge's assistant, a loyal and diligent employee. A child at heart, Cratchit truly enjoys carrying Tiny Tim around town, and is a loving family man. </li></ul><ul><li>Tim Cratchit  Bob Cratchit's youngest son. Never complains about his handicap. Scrooge does donate money for Tiny Tim's medical treatment. </li></ul><ul><li>The Ghost of Christmas Past  The first spirit to visit Scrooge is The Ghost of Christmas Past. With him, Scrooge is able to see himself as a younger man and remember a time when he was more open and hopeful about life. </li></ul><ul><li>The Ghost of Christmas Present  The second spirit is loud and boisterous, a large man who shows up with a mountain of food and drink. His purpose is to show Scrooge how his friends and family are celebrating Christmas without him. </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come  This ghost does not speak, but shows Scrooge a bleak future (his death and Tiny Tim”s). </li></ul><ul><li>Jacob Marley  Marley is Scrooge's late business partner. Dead for seven years, he comes back to haunt Scrooge and warns him that he is wasting his life. He is bound around the waist with a chain, &quot;the chain I forged in life,&quot; made of &quot;cashboxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel.&quot; He informs Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts. </li></ul><ul><li>Old Fezziwig  Fezziwig is Scrooge's old employer. A large and genial man, he throws a huge Christmas party with food and music and dancing and drinks and good cheer all around. He provides a contrast to the kind of employer Scrooge turns out to be: parsimonious and cold. </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Ebenezer Scrooge  a miser, a defender of utilitarianism and Thomas Malthus. Learns to treasure humanity through the glimpses that the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future give him into his own life. He is relieved to find that he still has a chance to change the course of his life, and he does it: he becomes generous and good-humored, a positive force in the community, and good friends with Tiny Tim. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Themes <ul><li>1) Guilt and Innocence  Scrooge’s guilty: he is mean and tight-fisted with his assistant, Bob Cratchit; dismissive of his nephew, Fred; miserly and cold with the men from the local charity association; and nasty to the little caroler that he chases away from his keyhole with a ruler  the innocents. Marley’s ghost raises the question of guilt directly, explaining that he himself is forced to walk the earth as a ghost because he was a heartless, self-involved man. </li></ul><ul><li>2) Redemption  Scrooge is redeemed because he learns how to let his spirit walk among his fellow men. He shows this by becoming a better man, and a better master. He shows his redemption slowly by his actions, reactions and emotions. </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>3) Fear  of the world and relationships, fear of death. </li></ul><ul><li>4) Wealth and Poverty  gap between the rich and poor. </li></ul><ul><li>Bob Cratchit can barely feed his family, but is happy on Christmas time. </li></ul><ul><li>A Christmas Carol does not equate poverty with cheer and wealth with misery, however. The party at Fred's house shows people who are wealthy having a good time </li></ul><ul><li>5) Ignorance and Want  even though people like the Cratchits can laugh in their poverty, it is still a serious and life-threatening matter. </li></ul>