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ConnieAnnKirk
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Registered: ‎06-14-2007
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Social Commentary in A CHRISTMAS CAROL?

Some of you are asking for a discussion of the other elements of the story beyond a heart-warming Christmas story. Dickens was known for making political and social commentary about life in his times through his fiction. What kind of social commentary, if any, do you make out of A CHRISTMAS CAROL? Is there anything else going on in this story besides getting an old codger to warm up to the holiday? Is the book about loneliness? Caring for the elderly, the poor? Social injustice? What else might A CHRISTMAS CAROL be "about?"
~ConnieAnnKirk




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dulcinea3
Posts: 4,389
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Social Commentary in A CHRISTMAS CAROL?

Well, this is very obvious and broad, but the main moral lesson seems to be one of 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'. In other words, be kind and charitable to others; if you are not, they will not care about you, and you will end up lonely and miserable and die a wretched death. Also, that material wealth is not important and is not what will make you happy.

(Spoiler in the next paragraph if you haven't gotten to the Ghost of Christmas Future yet)

In addition, there are specific references to social injustices going on in Dickens' society, such as the passage that someone mentioned in another thread where they were closing the bakeries (I think that was it; I usually post from work, where I don't have access to the book) and not allowing the poor to use the ovens, and later on (spoiler!) when the Ghost of Christmas Future shows Scrooge the two children.

Incidentally, how careful do we have to be with spoilers here? Even those who have not yet read the novel are probably familiar with movie versions, in this specific case. And in these additional threads, which are not about specific ranges of chapters, can we talk freely about the whole book? In the old BNU reading groups, the reading assignments were supposed to be done on a certain schedule, so, for example, if you were in the first week, you shouldn't post anything about the middle of the book, and that sort of thing, but here I don't think there is a suggested schedule, is there?
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Gypsy
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Registered: ‎06-01-2007
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Re: Social Commentary in A CHRISTMAS CAROL?

(NOTE: Some spoilers follow)

This book is so much more than a nice story about an old codger getting the Christmas spirit. Dickens shows Scrooge more than just Fred or Cratchitt celebrating the holiday; he takes Scrooge to the impoverished trying to find a little joy in the season. He's telling Scrooge (and us) that Christmas isn't just tinsel and doing something nice once a year. We find people who love one another as family and friends and this love lasts year-round. Scrooge wouldn't have lost Isabel if he ignored her one day each year. And the kindness and help he gives Tiny Tim (oddly the least interesting character in the story) isn't just at Christmas. Although the story takes place at Christmas, it really isn't a Christmas story.
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Kisa2674
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Registered: ‎12-01-2007
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Re: Social Commentary in A CHRISTMAS CAROL?



ConnieK wrote:
Some of you are asking for a discussion of the other elements of the story beyond a heart-warming Christmas story. Dickens was known for making political and social commentary about life in his times through his fiction. What kind of social commentary, if any, do you make out of A CHRISTMAS CAROL? Is there anything else going on in this story besides getting an old codger to warm up to the holiday? Is the book about loneliness? Caring for the elderly, the poor? Social injustice? What else might A CHRISTMAS CAROL be "about?"


I hope it's okay to chime in since I'm new. I adore Dickens exactly because he reflects so much of his life in all of his work, not just "A Christmas Carol". I think Dickens was definitely horrified by Victorian society's empty morality as his own family was put into a debtor's prison, forcing him to work in a shoe polish factory as a child. His outrage at the treatment of the poor and industry's reliance on child labor reveals so much about the text's social commentary.
I know it's obvious that Scrooge is THE symbol of unemotional greed but I still tend to be frightened by seeing that reflected in society today. His comment that the death of the poor serves to "decrease the surplus population" is so heartbreaking; knowing that Dickens once was the "surplus population" reveals such vulnerability as an author. Every character seems rooted in more of a stark reality for me. Does that make sense?
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perfect_hostess
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Registered: ‎07-27-2007
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Re: Social Commentary in A CHRISTMAS CAROL?

While it may not be as obvious or as pervasive, I think Dickens was also commenting on the Victorian tradition of boys being separated from their homes and families at a very young age.

Scrooge gets put into a boarding school, which really signifies the beginning of his lonely existence, setting the groundwork for his future miserliness. Had Scrooge been allowed to remain at home, he may not have been the person he was when the book began.

As an opposition to Scrooge and his being ripped from his home, we see Tiny Tim. He is allowed to remain close to those who love and care for him and, although he is extremely ill, doesn't seem to have a real care in the world and shows no signs of becoming jaded, unlike the young Scrooge we see sitting in the classroom.
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thinker
Posts: 129
Registered: ‎08-17-2007
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Re: Social Commentary in A CHRISTMAS CAROL?

Loneliness and Social injustice were really brought out here.

Not only at chistmas time are social injustices brought forward, year round this is a problem that seems a bit hard to tackle, unfortunately not all those at the "higher levels" receive such a drastic change of heart, actually some never do

Mr Scrooge's loneliness was expressed in his outlook of life, he actually thought that basking in his riches could bring him relief from this but it didn't, it took some life changing revelations to change his heart and mind.
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Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Social Commentary in A CHRISTMAS CAROL?

Not just Victorian times - many boys, particularly from the upper class, are still separated from their families and put into UK boarding schools. Churchill's autobiography describes the loneliness and grief of this all too common occurence very well. I once did some research into this topic and the reading was heartbreaking. I coined a phrase for it: 'institutionalised neglect'.




perfect_hostess wrote:
While it may not be as obvious or as pervasive, I think Dickens was also commenting on the Victorian tradition of boys being separated from their homes and families at a very young age.

Scrooge gets put into a boarding school, which really signifies the beginning of his lonely existence, setting the groundwork for his future miserliness. Had Scrooge been allowed to remain at home, he may not have been the person he was when the book began.

As an opposition to Scrooge and his being ripped from his home, we see Tiny Tim. He is allowed to remain close to those who love and care for him and, although he is extremely ill, doesn't seem to have a real care in the world and shows no signs of becoming jaded, unlike the young Scrooge we see sitting in the classroom.


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JesseBC
Posts: 278
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Social Commentary in A CHRISTMAS CAROL?

Not sure anybody's even still around these parts, but I'd be very reluctant to impose this kind of post-Freudian thinking on pre-Freudian literature.

Dickens commented quite a lot on the social conditions of his time, particularly the plight of the poor. But separation from caregivers wouldn't have been remotely on his radar.

Not to mention that boarding schools exist to this day and their charges hardly wind up emotionally stunted misers.





perfect_hostess wrote:
While it may not be as obvious or as pervasive, I think Dickens was also commenting on the Victorian tradition of boys being separated from their homes and families at a very young age.

Scrooge gets put into a boarding school, which really signifies the beginning of his lonely existence, setting the groundwork for his future miserliness. Had Scrooge been allowed to remain at home, he may not have been the person he was when the book began.

As an opposition to Scrooge and his being ripped from his home, we see Tiny Tim. He is allowed to remain close to those who love and care for him and, although he is extremely ill, doesn't seem to have a real care in the world and shows no signs of becoming jaded, unlike the young Scrooge we see sitting in the classroom.


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