Saturday, December 6, 2008

December Special Feature: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The beloved Christmas classic, A Christmas Carol, is the first of many Christmas themed books we will feature during the month of December.

First published in December 1843, this is the story of an old and bitter miser named Ebenezer Scrooge who undergoes an amazing and profound transformation after being visited by three spirits.

A Christmas Carol deals with two themes commonly found in Dickens's work: social injustice and poverty. Bob Crachit, who works for Mr. Scrooge, is paid a meager salary working long hours to support his large family. His youngest boy, known as Tiny Tim, is crippled, and is sure to die without proper medical attention. Contrast the Crachits' life versus Scrooge's wealth, and one would be sure that Scrooge is better off. But the Crachit family is thankful for what they have and the love and support they offer each other puts them way ahead of Scrooge in the happiness and contentment category.

The appearance of Marley's ghost is perhaps the most disturbing scene--especially when it is captured on film. Jacob Marley was Scrooge's business partner who has just died when the book opens. He has come to help his friend change his ways, for now he knows the cost of sins against humanity. Marley's warning, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come turn Scrooge into a new man, and the reader rejoices in his miraculous transformation.

A Christmas Carol has been brought to film many times with John Carradine, George C. Scott, and many other fine actors playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in various versions. The book has also been adapted for animated television using Mr. Magoo, The Muppets, and even The Flintstones, to name a few. And it looks like there might be a 2009 animated version staring Jim Carrey as the voice of Scrooge and all three Ghosts.

My favorite version remains the 1999 TNT production staring Patrick Stewart (Star Trek the Next Generation).

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this Christmas classic.

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