A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens. It was first published by Chapman & Hall on 19 December 1843. Carol tells the story of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation resulting from a supernatural visit by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. The book was written and published in early Victorian era Britain, a period when there was strong nostalgia for old Christmas traditions together with the introduction of new customs, such as Christmas trees and greeting cards. Dickens’ sources for the tale appear to be many and varied, but are, principally, the humiliating experiences of his childhood, his sympathy for the poor, and various Christmas stories and fairy tales.
My triple-bill of festive reviews comes to an end with quite simply the greatest, and most British Christmas tale of all – A Christmas Carol. To give the story its full title, A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas is exactly what it says on the cover, a festive tale featuring ghosts.
But the reason this is quite probably my very favourite Christmas story, and the one I read every year runs so much deeper than this. In it, Dickens digs deep into our own humanity, and attitudes to our fellow man, woman and child. And deeper still, the story looks into the true meaning of Christmas. First published over 170 years ago, the story still rings true in a lot of ways.
Dickens examines the selfishness and greed that can preoccupy people in their lives, often leading them to forsake all others and commit to a life of solitude in pursuit of gain.The lead character is a miserly old man by the name Ebeneezer Scrooge. So obsessed with money is he, that he will even forgo his own comfort to save extra money.
And when it comes to helping those far less fortunate than himself, well it’s safe to say he doesn’t. Sick children, the homeless, in Scrooge’s eyes, they are all in a position of their own making. He harbors no festive spirit. That is, until the night before Christmas, he receives a visit from the ghostly spirit of his seven years deceased business partner, Jacob Marley. He brings unsettling news – that Scrooge will be visited upon by three further spectres – the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Be in an attempt to teach him the error of his ways, and save him from an eternity, restlessly wandering the earth after death.
Needless to say, lessons are learnt, and A Christmas Carol ends as a heartwarming tale of redemption, and restores faith in humankind. The book has been adapted many times onto the screen, none better than The Muppets’ Christmas Carol in my opinion, but still every year, just before Christmas, I open the pages of the almost two centuries old tale, and revel in this masterpiece of festive storytelling. As this is my last post before Christmas day, I’d like to take the chance to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas!