It may seem like it’s a bit early to jump on the Christmas band-wagon , but if you are looking for suspense, mystery, magic, and a touch of horror then this little novella is the perfect weekend read.
When we think of “A Christman Carol” it stirs memories of Christmas specials and crotchety old men and spirits and wonder. Most of us associate this little tale with sitting by the television and watching one of the innumerable renditions that have been produced and interpreted for the big screen, the small screen, and the theater alike, while eating cutout cookies and enjoying a roaring crackling fire in our fireplaces. We think of carolers in Victorian garb singing on doors steps and Tiny Tim’s immortal words, “God Bless, every one.”
But how many of us have taken time to read the original by the fire, as it was intended to be read? By the fire, read aloud, and full of the haunting ghosts and chilling lessons as Dickens hoped it would be experienced. When “A Christmas Carol” was written, Britain was in a state of transition, both in Christmas traditions and economy. With this novella Dickens takes us into the heart of the Victorian Christmas experience.
Unlike your traditional Christmas story, full of cheer and joy, “A Christmas Carol” takes us through a series of unpleasant, life altering experiences with the story’s unique antagonist/protagonist, Ebenezer Scrooge. We get a gritty, cold, unfiltered look at the life of the wealthy, working-class, and poor people of Victorian England and we get to watch as the main character, through the forgotten eyes of the past, the unblurred eyes of the present, and the terrifying eyes of the future, gains the hindsight needed to change, and becomes the unlikely hero.
The story of the three spirits’ visits leads us through key moments in Scrooge’s life that have defined him as the bitter man we are introduced to at the beginning of the story. Dickens carefully chooses scene after scene, using them not only to shed light on Scrooge’s own life, but on the lives he affects through his actions.
We gain entry into the intimate lives of the Cratchit family and their unknown struggles kept behind closed doors, and by doing so, both Scrooge and the reader suffer with their troubles, learning about their effect on the world around them. By using the spirits as a guide for Scrooge, Dickens creates an introspective experience that is easily shared by the main character and the reader alike.
Not only a beautiful Christmas story, but a portrait of the era and a lesson on reflection, “A Christmas Carol” is one of those literary gems that must grace every reader’s shelves. Dickens’ language, story and characters draw you in, paint you a picture and immerse you into their lives and history.