A Christmas Carol (1843) by Charles Dickens is a great classic read.
Set in London, it follows the story of greedy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by four ghosts: his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come in one night as they try to show him the error of his ways.
It is a great plot with an effective message. Be a kind person. I suppose to me at least it wasn’t completely clear whether by the end Scrooge changed his ways for the right reasons or not but I was glad he did all the same. But in saying that, I’m not sure whether he did it because he became understanding of what the ghosts were saying or because he got a fright and he didn’t want to die. I like to think it’s the former but I’m not completely sure if it was the latter or a combination of both. The final one there would be ok too as long as the bigger chunk of the reason was that he cared.
I do think Dickens wrote his backstory and his past very well. He showed where this hardness and cruelty in Scrooge came from without excusing it in any way. He was treated badly in some ways by people and was hurt so he lost thinking of other’s feelings along the way because he lost faith in people. He believed everyone would hurt him so he decided he would not get close to anyone and hurt them before they hurt him. His backstory shows that he wasn’t always like that which means there is hope for him yet.
I like the approach Dickens took to the moral issues with Scrooge. He put people in the story who would help him but he didn’t wrap him up in cotton wool. You know say that everyone is a lot like Scrooge and that it’s normal to be like Scrooge. Though it’s in the extreme for novel drama, he writes these ghosts in to show Scrooge that he not only would needs to change to be a better version of himself but also to acknowledge the pain he caused others. I don’t feel that Dickens ever strays into sympathy or empathy with Scrooge and it always feels like he is on the side of those wronged by him which I thought was really cool.
The plot is imaginative and well executed. There is a gorgeous poetic flow to the book. I don’t mind either way but a big difference in this book to a lot of other works by Dickens is that while there is quite a number of characters, there is less here to keep up with. The atmosphere throughout is great and that is not easy considering we change landscapes on the regular. The book is very well paced. It is extremely well-written.
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