Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
A Christmas Carol: Charles Dickens, December 18—23, 2014
My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊
Charles Dickens’ famous festive favourite, A Christmas Carol, is the timeless tale of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge being visited by the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet To Come who urge him to change his selfish ways. It is difficult to review the original piece without considering the many derivatives it spawned, but its legacy only proves its standard.
Scrooge truly is everything he comes to represent. He begrudges his poor clerk Bob Cratchit heating in the winter, let alone a paid holiday on Christmas Day. He also shuns his nephew’s annual invitation to Christmas dinner.
Very much a character piece, A Christmas Carol seeks to explore what created Scrooge’s self-centred tendencies, how he is viewed by those around him and where he is ultimately headed. The development of the character is marked, but somewhat rushed. Though not surprising that he would beg to see some tenderness connected to his death, the transformation is unsatisfying in its sudden totality.
Bob and his family – most notably Tiny Tim – are the most prominent secondary characters after the Ghosts themselves. Everyone other than Scrooge fills a somewhat symbolic role and it might have been nice to see some of these parts expanded to allow us to get to know them a bit.
What Dickens does very well is tell the story. He fully embraces his role as Narrator, and colourfully describes the events that unfold. The prose is embellished, almost poetic at times, echoing the Christmas Carol title. You can tell Dickens is relishing sitting down and telling the story, not just conveying an impartial, passive sequence of events.
Despite straying into some dark places, A Christmas Carol keeps the festivities at its heart, throwing everything in: turkey, snow and any other appropriate symbols. It’s a tale immersed in both its time and season.
It’s entertaining, festive and very well told. All A Christmas Carol is missing is a more considered approach to Scrooge’s reaction to what he sees. Dickens has created a classic that many after him have developed and expanded on, and his message lives on so long after it was written: God bless us, every one.