December 22, 2004

Horse 260 - Dickens' A Christmas Carol

That now famous story of a man who was visited by three spirits and encouraged to change his ways has even had a word pass into the main as an accepted word - scrooge. Yet the book leaves one glaring hole in its moral quest, and that is the question of the man whom the spirits were trying to "save".

We are told that he is a widower and presumably would most likely have been alone for the holiday. Yet no-one including the spirits seems concerned for his welfare. It is understandable that his employee Bob Cratchit would have liked the holiday off, but the fact that he is paid 15 shillings a week is gloriously gleaned over when in actual fact that position of clerk is paid $796.93 a week in 2004 terms - one would consider that to be somewhat generous for a clerk to be paid $41668. Hardly the mark of a scrooge is it?

We are also told of the consequences if her does not change his ways that "Tiny Tim" (no relation to the now deceased ukelele player) will die. Yet Scrooge himself has already lost his wife and his carrying on his business despite losing his business partner some seven years ago. In those terms, the spirits who visit him and try to instill a guilt trip on him are rather callous on reflection.

Scrooge's new-found benevolence continues as he raises Cratchit's salary and vows to assist his family, which includes Bob's crippled son, Tiny Tim. In the end Dickens reports that Scrooge became 'as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew'. Clearly the guilt trip worked, but again no-one is actually concerned for the welfare of the man who still despite all of the events of the novel remains uncared for.

What am I trying to draw from this? It would appear that people are the sum of their experiences, and when society abandons them as in the case of Scrooge, they appear to shut down and withdraw. To tar Scrooge with the brush that Dickens has used is as callous and cruel as the spirits that haunt him.

In the end, who really cared for Scrooge in this story? Sadly, no-one.


Anonymous said...

What is going on in that head of yours? Are you secretly lonely and not telling anyone? You can't hide from lonliness but running away from it or being busy you know.

Anonymous said...

It's not Andrew's fault that he's lonely. I mean look at what life gave him: he isn't rich, he's not that good looking and he's kind of shy.
What sort of woman would want to go out with him? None, of course.

Rollo said...

Merry Christmas to you too.