Excursions Of A Bibliophile

What are u reading these days?

Re-reading Christmas Carol

Posted by Vish Mangalapalli on December 30, 2008

There is something in the air of Christmas and New Year eve which makes me pensive, generous and full of strange melancholy. Over the last ten years, I have spent six Christmas and New Year eves across various countries in Europe and the feeling has remained the same. The notes I have jotted down about the season seem to have a consistency that reflects either of two things — that I am impervious to feeling anything new outside a narrow band of feelings or that the evocative capabilities of an impending Christmas and New year eve have remained consistent. I was curious to see how Christmas season was dealt in literature and thought that the time was appropriate to revisit that eternal classic “Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

Christmas Carol” is the story of redemptive journey of Ebenezar Scrooge aided by the Ghosts of John Marley –  Scrooge’s former business partner and the three Christmas ghosts of Past, Present and Future. The journey in time covers the life of Scrooge and his own gradual descent into a despicable avarice and stinginess and the subsequent climbing out of the same through a change in heart.  As I interpreted, Dickens builds the change in Scrooge on two motives. First – there is a general desire to embrace all that is positive in being a good human — i.e. being kind, generous, sensitive and caring. The second motive is that of a fear of being ill judged by posterity for his actions on earth when alive. In general, it is this second motive that I always find puzzling in human beings — I mean, when one is dead why be worried about how others judge one posthumously? Personally, I dont think this second motive in any form or kind will drive a change in my behaviour or motivate me to embrace a transformation. The first motive is sufficient enough for me. I found two aspects of the novel quite appealing. Firstly, all human redemptions have a great sense of pain, sadness and lack of ready acceptance associated with them. The agonies of this predicament I find difficult to bear as a reader. Thankfully, Dickens keeps this to a minimum and brings a quick transformation in Scrooge. The second is that there are absolutely no religious overtones associated with Christmas… it is just that Christmas is used as an auspicious occasion to urge people to be what they ought to be in a society. Dickens could have used any other non descriptive day of the year and still delivered the much needed moralistic message.

Why I cant say but my re-reading of this classic after a gap of nearly two and half decades did not move me the way it moved when I read it as an adolescent. Maybe this is a warning sign of stratified cynicism that I need to shed for my own good. Having said that, there is no denying that “Christmas Carol” is still a very touching, heart warming and uniquely moralistic novel and one gets a close glimpse of Dickens’s masterly capabilities as a writer whether it be the language he employs, the characterisation or the outstanding story telling. That the word “Scrooge” has been an etymological contribution of Dickens is one of numerous proofs of his extraordinary capabilities as a writer

Afterword: I was given to understand that besides “Christmas Carol“, Dickens had written four other books viz. “Chimes“, “The Cricket on the Hearth“, “The Battle of Life” and “The Haunted Man” dealing with the theme of Christmas and New Year spirit. I hope to read and write my impressions about these four very soon before the freshness of the new year wears off and life’s humdrum takes over


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