Review: “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

For the love of books

Charles Dickens is an icon of classic literature.  He is remembered with respect for his prolific portfolio and the tremendous impact of his writing on society.  However, he is recognized immediately by even those who have never read any of his novels for one particular contribution: A Christmas Carol.

Miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, good-natured Bob Cratchit, and those three famous ghostly visits have become clichés since their warm entrance into the world of storytelling.  The remarkable diversity of the author’s imagination and his ability to simultaneously make his stories emotional, political, and intellectual are not the only “signatures” of Dickens’ impressive (and witty) writing style.  A Christmas Carol is not like his other novels; its plot has no mysteries, no twists, and no acute satire.  However, this novella is about more than the “spirit of Christmas” as well.  It is, as the author himself mentioned, a ghost story meant to entertain and enlighten everyone who does or cannot experience the joy of Christmas and what the season really means.

Dickens utilizes Scrooge’s character as the opposite mentality, as not only an example of redemption but also a description of how a person must conquer his/her bad nature until the good nature hidden within is prominent.  It is about how people’s lives and destinies are shaped by the actions of others, how the survival of every person is dependant on someone else.  Poverty, starvation, unemployment, and the severe division of the classes are groping weeds of injustice that are choking the world.  Society, which always turns a blind eye to the miseries of others, is uncompassionate and ruthless, avaricious and intent on the “benefits” of “progress.”

Nevertheless, A Christmas Carol illuminates the wonder of compassion, generosity, and altruism; it shines a bright light of hope through the insecurity and destitution evident in Victorian England.  Christmas, like any other time of year, is a time for contemplation and reaching out to help one’s neighbors in need.  A Christmas Carol, with its immortal themes and characters, conveys exactly that.

Original review: Part 1: ‘Tis the season to read Christmas classics, Examiner.com

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