Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Christmas Carol and Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol
The first time I read Charles Dickens was several years ago when I read A Christmas Carol to my children.  In my typical intimidation, I thought, "This is going to be so hard, not only to read, but to comprehend."  It was a little difficult to read, but not to understand.  I got it, and my kids got it.  And they loved it, too.

Now I read it every Christmas to them, and each time I glean something new.  But most of all, when we reach that final chapter, I get the same elated feeling in my heart when Ebenezer is revived with new life, realizing that his own life has been preserved and that he has been given a special gift. Then he takes that joy within himself and shares it with others.  What a very simple and vital message this is for all of us for always!

Maybe Dickens uses the Christmas theme to demonstrate the joy this season naturally brings out in most people in order to show us how hardened Ebenezer's heart truly was; and yet, we can definitely believe that Ebenezer does not remain the same the rest of the year.  His heart is surely changed for good because he is a new man.

"Merry Christmas!" - PJ Lynch
Ebenezer was so hardened that it was natural for him to believe there were some people who were not worthy of benevolence. Frankly, they - the poor, the destitute, the downtrodden, the infirm and cripple - were not even worthy of living. However, his time with the Ghost of Christmas Present revealed to us that even those with much less were able to enjoy Christmas in their hearts, while he, Scrooge, who had "much more" was unable to have any joy at all.

Sadly, there are stories about children unwanted or rejected today because they will grow up in poverty, have birth defects, or an "untreatable condition." Why are they not worthy of love, hope, opportunity, or life? Why are they not permitted to love and live, too? Maybe those lives are meant to be someone else's opportunity to share joy with or to care for, such as Tiny Tim and his family were to Ebenezer? 

Maybe that is why God permits poverty and oppression: because it becomes the testing of those who are able to give to and care for others, just as it was for Ebenezer. Those more fortunate are capable of being the blessings for those less fortunate.  That is how God works.  It's just a wonder.

Charles Dickens
  And, so, this is also why I love Dickens so much because of   the profound truths that he incorporates into his stories.  He  writes about deeply delicate human issues using highly  developed  characters, some of whom seem so unreal and  yet very believable anyway.  He wants the reader to see the  entire picture of his characters - every physical feature and  every ounce of personality. Probably the name of the  character tells you something about that character's  personality, too,  because Dickens  loves to play with  words. His composition and style are like a puzzle, and his works are worthy to read.

 I should probably make a point to read at least one Dickens a year, so I think I will add Great Expectations to my TBR Challenge for 2014.


Cleo said...

Thanks for your post, Ruth, and for giving me more to appreciate about Dickens. Sometimes I find his excess of character development challenging but, for the most part, I am mesmerized at the way he draws the reader right into his creation. David Copperfield is a new Dickens-experience for me and with Bleak House coming up, I'm looking forward to stepping into another world!

Ruth said...

Thank you, Cleo. A friend of mine says Bleak House is her FAVORITE. It may be awhile before I get to it, and Copperfield, so I'll be curious what you think after you are done.

Hamlette (Rachel) said...

A very thoughtful and thought-provoking post! I've only read this story twice, though I've seen movie versions time and again (my m-i-l gave me "The Muppet Christmas Carol" this year, and I also own the Patrick Stewart version). It's such a good story for bolstering the Christmas spirit if it gets a bit fatigued by commercialism, etc.

Ruth said...

Do you know I have never watched a film version? I actually heard the Muppets one was pretty good. I did see a theater production once. The story has a really good and important message for Christmas or any time.

Hamlette (Rachel) said...

Wow, really? I've seen several, but the only ones I want to watch over and over are the Muppets and the Patrick Stewart version, which was actually a TV movie, but is delightful.

Anonymous said...

I read A Christmas Carol for the first time last December although I had seen numerous theatrical performances of the novella. Honestly, it was so hard for me to read the story without thinking of these performances. A Christmas Carol belongs on stage. The book reads more like a screen play to me - a beautifully written screen play, of course.

Ruth said...

It certainly works on stage. A couple of years ago I took my kids to see a production of it, and we really enjoyed it. We also watched Duffy Hudson of Los Angeles perform all (how-ever-many-characters-there-are) for over two hours. I have to say, that was just as entertaining as watching the entire thing on stage. It's definitely an adaptable story no matter how it is done.

Anonymous said...

Well my comment is a little late....Dec 2013 - 2014 but better late than never.
Review is lovely and feel as you did an uplifting of spirits after reading it. It does get one into the mood of Christmas. I was able to find 5 film versions of the book. 1951 with Alister Sim dd 1951 was hard to find. It received the hightest score of all the adaptations. I will watch it and see if it makes a good impression on me! Merry Christmas!

Ruth said...

Oh, thanks for sharing. Since writing this post, I did see the Muppets version, and last night the kids watched the Jim Carrey and Colin Firth version, which was not exactly true to the book. I'll look into the 1951 version next time. Merry Christmas!

Joseph said...

Very Nice! Great Expectations is a good one to add. I've got a long way to go on my Dickens TBR. I think I'm going to add Bleak House in 2019.