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eBook Media Viewer Series #19
Title: A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas
Author: Charles Dickens
In 1837, George Templeton Strong lamented the passing of Christmas in the "glorious antique style" of the rural baronial hall with its merriment, conviviality, and hospitality to high and low. Dickens provided vestiges of the old Christmas style in Carol with family feasts and fun but chose a setting of dreary city streets, unheated offices, and urban homes rather than the countryside manor house.
The tale begins on Christmas Eve seven years after the death of Ebenezer Scrooge's business partner Jacob Marley. That night seven years later, the ghost of Jacob Marley appears before Scrooge and warns him that his soul will be bearing heavy chains for eternity if he does not change his greedy ways, and also predicts that a series of other ghosts will follow. Three Christmas ghosts visit Scrooge during the course of the night, fulfilling Marley's prophecy. The first, the Ghost of Christmas Past, takes Scrooge to the scenes of his boyhood and youth which stir the old skinflint's gentle and tender side. The second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, takes Scrooge to the home of his nephew Fred to observe his game of Yes and No and to the humble dwelling of his clerk Bob Cratchit to observe his Christmas dinner. The third spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, harrows Scrooge with dire visions of the future if he does not learn and act upon what he has witnessed. Crippled Tiny Tim does not die as the ghost foretold and Scrooge becomes a different man, treating his fellow men with kindness, generosity, and compassion, and gaining a reputation as a man who embodies the spirit of Christmas.
Scrooge's redemption underscores the conservative, individualistic, and patriarchal aspects of Dickens's 'Carol philosophy' which depended on a more fortunate individual willingly looking after a less fortunate one who had demonstrated his worthiness to receive such attention. Government or other agencies were not called upon to effect change in an economy that created extremes of wealth and poverty but personal moral conscience and individual action in a narrow interpretation of the old forms of 'noblesse oblige' were expected to do so.