Brandon Pearce's Reviews > A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
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Jun 12, 08

bookshelves: classics

I read this book every year in December. I love Dickens' use of the language. One of my favorite things that he does is to stack adjectives in quick succession to create climactic descriptions that are so fun to read out loud. Here is one example "Oh! but he was a tightfisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!." He was paid by the word for most of his work so he was in the habit of drawing out his sentences a bit, but for me, it makes his syntax all the more intriguing.
From a historical perspective, Dickens really changed the way people thought about the Christmas celebration. He romantisized, and hallowed, what was a day of revelry and drunkeness. He helped create the reverential tradition that we have today.
In the Christmas jingle, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, there is a line that goes, “There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.” Scary ghost stories doesn’t seem to go with the rest of the merry activities associated with Christmas time, and yet Charles Dickens’ delightful ghost story, “A Christmas Carol,” has become such a part of the Yuletide tradition that singing about it as part of our seasonal activities doesn’t even cause a second thought. In “A Christmas Carol” Dickens was able to take a fantasy theme, spectral visitors to a crotchety old miser, and weave it into a believable tale. So believable that it captured the heart of England and transformed the celebration of Christmas the world over. The key to keeping this whimsical subject matter on the ground is the Cratchit family and Dickens’ moving descriptions of the common working class family enjoying Christmas together.
The descriptions of the Cratchit’s celebration take up much of the narrative, but this quote may sum them up as well as any:
"Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth, in what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and at Bob Cratchit’s elbow stood the family display of glass; two tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle.
These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with beaming looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and crackled noisily. Then Bob proposed:
'A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!'
Which all the family re-echoed. 'God bless us every one!' said Tiny Tim last of all."

These poignant depictions of the lower middle class not only gave “A Christmas Carol” its power, but its realism. The Cratchits are a very believable family, dressed in refurbished hand-me-downs, and sharing three glasses between them. The oldest daughter working away the morning at a bakers to bring in extra cash. These characters speak to the heart of anyone who has struggled to pay their bills, and who is weighed down by the worries and stresses of making their way in life; which is virtually everyone of course.
If its the Cratchits that make the story real then its Scrooge that makes the story wonderful. In just a few pages Dickens is able to reveal a very complex and real character in Scrooge. His behaviour and attitudes are founded upon a long held philosophy of pragmatics and positivism. His heart is so shriveled because of how tightly he has wrapped it in this suffocating life phiolosophy. But when that world is forcefully unraveled...well, his response is what makes the book so fabulous.
Anyone who celebrates Christmas owes it to themselves to read this book at least once.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Brian (new)

Brian Smith Dude... with School and work and stuff, how the heck to you find time to read other than text books and scritchers??!


Brandon Pearce Who said anything about scritchers? ha ha. Yeah, I really only get to read for leisure during the holidays and such.


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