Karen's Reviews > A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
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Dec 21, 08

bookshelves: classics, united-kingdom
Read in December, 2008

I don't remember ever having read this book before now, but I know that I have seen many movie adaptations. I enjoyed reading the source itself and watching Dickens paint these vivid characters. Yes, the language is filled with hyperbole, but it seems suited for a tale where the soul of humanity hangs in the balance.

I would articulate the theme, but Dickens has Scrooge himself do so in the last page of Stave IV: "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach" (62).

Enjoyable for me were not only the characters, but the detailed descriptions of Christmas feasts in the Christmas Present stave. I also paid attention to the contrasts between light and dark -- which are appropriate for a tale to be told around the darkest day of the year. Dickens admonishes all of humanity to kindle the lights of love, generosity, kindness, and good cheer in response to the darkness against which we all must banish: Want and Ignorance are two faces of the darkness that Dickens names and personifies, but I would add fear, greed, prejudice and pride.

Even though Dickens dramatizes his characters and their situation to the point of making them cartoon characters, I find that the tale has a great heart. It makes a clear invitation to the reader to change in response to this music, this "carol" that Dickens composes. In Stave III, Dickens points out the power that the art of music has to change the human heart, but I suspect he thought this of literature as well: "When this strain of music sounded, all the things that Ghost [of Christmas Present] had shown him, came upon his mind; he softened more and more; and thought that if he could have listened to it often, years ago, he might have cultivated the kindnesses of life for his own happiness with his own hands" (46).

And so I will take Dickens' advice and probably revisit this Christmas Carol again next year.
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