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ConnieAnnKirk
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Staves (Chapters) 1-2

For discussion of Chapters 1 & 2.
~ConnieAnnKirk




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BarbaraN
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Re: Staves (Chapters) 1-2: First Impressions

I'll have to put my first impressions here since I'm just starting out.

Right off, I can see that Dickens is not emphasizing the religious aspects of Christmas at all but more of the spirit of Christmas. He is also doesn't seem to be talking about outright giving but more of a sharing and opening up to people, especially people you might not usually associate with. I think the theme of the book is well stated by Scrooge's nephew in Stave 1:

-------------------------
I have always thought of Christmas time ... as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.
---------------------------

I was also struck by something else: "when men and women seem by one consent". I would have fully expected a novel of this time to have stated "when men seem by one consent" using the term "men" to reference mankind in general. Dickens has specifically included women.

This statement by the nephew is probably an important part of Dickens's ultimate story message: "to think of people below them" but I don't think his message is limited to this. His nephew is obvious trying to apply his philosophy as stated above to his attitude toward Scrooge and Scrooge is certainly of a higher financial station. So I think this story is going far beyond the social responsibility of the financially well-off toward the less fortunate to a more inclusive and universal philosophy.

Barbara
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Choisya
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Re: Staves (Chapters) 1-2: First Impressions

Super post Barbara! There are also messages there that apply to us today as commercialism engulfs the 'kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time' of Christmas which Dickens, via Scrooge's nephew, envisaged.

This link gives us some idea about Dickens' own religious beliefs:-

http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/dickens/dickens4.html






BarbaraN wrote:
I'll have to put my first impressions here since I'm just starting out.

Right off, I can see that Dickens is not emphasizing the religious aspects of Christmas at all but more of the spirit of Christmas. He is also doesn't seem to be talking about outright giving but more of a sharing and opening up to people, especially people you might not usually associate with. I think the theme of the book is well stated by Scrooge's nephew in Stave 1:

-------------------------
I have always thought of Christmas time ... as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.
---------------------------

I was also struck by something else: "when men and women seem by one consent". I would have fully expected a novel of this time to have stated "when men seem by one consent" using the term "men" to reference mankind in general. Dickens has specifically included women.

This statement by the nephew is probably an important part of Dickens's ultimate story message: "to think of people below them" but I don't think his message is limited to this. His nephew is obvious trying to apply his philosophy as stated above to his attitude toward Scrooge and Scrooge is certainly of a higher financial station. So I think this story is going far beyond the social responsibility of the financially well-off toward the less fortunate to a more inclusive and universal philosophy.

Barbara


GMG
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GMG
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Re: Staves (Chapters) 1-2: First Impressions

Good point. I think this also serves to illuminate the ways in which poor English families/individuals during this time were forced to rely on the irregular charity ("liberality" in Chp. 1) of the wealthy; this surfaces often in Victorian novels. I think it's interesting that Scrooge (in this first chapter) defends his refusal to give the "portly gentlemen" seeking contributions by stating that he already supports the prisons and the Union workhouses.

--G.
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BarbaraN
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Re: Staves (Chapters) 1-2: Scrooge's Humor

I was struck by the sense of humor Scrooge had in this story. I was not sure if it was supposed to be intentional on Scrooge's side but, considering that fact the same style of humor showed up in the narrative as well, I think Dickens was throughly enjoying himself. Looking at Stave 1 I thought I might share some things that struck me as a bit humorous, especially coming from this old curmudgeon.

In his office:

"If I could work my will," said Scrooge, indignantly, "every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas,' on his lips, sould be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a steak of holly through his heart. He should!"

In reference to his nephew after being applauded by Cratchet:

"You're quite a powerful speaker, sir," he added, turning to his nephew. "I wonder you don't go into Parliament."

In reference to Cratchet:

"There's another fellow," muttered Scrooge; who overheard him: "my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking about a merry Christmas. I'll retire to Bedlam."

To the charity collectors after inquiring about the state of the poor workhouses, treadmills, prisons and being reassured by them that they were still in operation:

"Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I'm very glad to hear it."
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Staves (Chapters) 1-2: First Impressions

Welcome to the book club, GMG!

~ConnieK



GMG wrote:
Good point. I think this also serves to illuminate the ways in which poor English families/individuals during this time were forced to rely on the irregular charity ("liberality" in Chp. 1) of the wealthy; this surfaces often in Victorian novels. I think it's interesting that Scrooge (in this first chapter) defends his refusal to give the "portly gentlemen" seeking contributions by stating that he already supports the prisons and the Union workhouses.

--G.


~ConnieAnnKirk




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Choisya
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Re: Staves (Chapters) 1-2: Scrooge's Humor - Irony.

[ Edited ]
Not straightforward humour though but good old British irony and sarcasm, found in so many British novels and very much part of British humour today:smileyhappy:. The second is an example of a 'backhanded' compliment, a common form of irony over here. Dickens was a past master at irony as was Jane Austen, of course, although her irony was painted with 'so fine a brush' that it is often missed.




BarbaraN wrote:
I was struck by the sense of humor Scrooge had in this story. I was not sure if it was supposed to be intentional on Scrooge's side but, considering that fact the same style of humor showed up in the narrative as well, I think Dickens was throughly enjoying himself. Looking at Stave 1 I thought I might share some things that struck me as a bit humorous, especially coming from this old curmudgeon.

In his office:

"If I could work my will," said Scrooge, indignantly, "every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas,' on his lips, sould be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a steak of holly through his heart. He should!"

In reference to his nephew after being applauded by Cratchet:

"You're quite a powerful speaker, sir," he added, turning to his nephew. "I wonder you don't go into Parliament."

In reference to Cratchet:

"There's another fellow," muttered Scrooge; who overheard him: "my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking about a merry Christmas. I'll retire to Bedlam."

To the charity collectors after inquiring about the state of the poor workhouses, treadmills, prisons and being reassured by them that they were still in operation:

"Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I'm very glad to hear it."



Message Edited by Choisya on 12-04-2007 12:48 AM
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Choisya
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Re: Staves (Chapters) 1-2: The Undeserving Poor.

There was a great deal of philanthropy in Victorian times and more charitable institutions were set up then than at any other time in British history. However, provision was very patchy and 'moral'. This led Beatrice Webb, one of the great reformers who studied the 'labouring poor', to coin the phrase 'the deserving and undeserving poor' by which she meant those who philanthropists chose to help and those who were thought not to deserve help because of their so called 'immorality'. She called for government provision for the poor so that those thought to be 'undeserving' would not fall through the net and become utterly destitute, fall into criminality etc. One of the 'undeserving' categories were unmarried mothers who Victorians considered immoral, whatever the circumstances, with the consequence that not only did the mother often die, but so did the baby:smileysad:. A great many of Dickens' novels deal with the 'undeserving poor' because, like Webb, he wanted to draw attention to this problem. The foundation of children's homes like Barnados and welfare provision/help for prostitutes and alcoholics etc can be dated back to this period which, though originally funded privately, came to be funded in a more even-handed way by the state.




GMG wrote:
Good point. I think this also serves to illuminate the ways in which poor English families/individuals during this time were forced to rely on the irregular charity ("liberality" in Chp. 1) of the wealthy; this surfaces often in Victorian novels. I think it's interesting that Scrooge (in this first chapter) defends his refusal to give the "portly gentlemen" seeking contributions by stating that he already supports the prisons and the Union workhouses.

--G.


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dulcinea3
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Re: Staves (Chapters) 1-2: The Undeserving Poor.



Choisya wrote:
A great many of Dickens' novels deal with the 'undeserving poor' because, like Webb, he wanted to draw attention to this problem.




Certainly a prime example of this is poor little Oliver Twist, who was judged by having been born in a workhouse to an unwed mother (who was also supposed to have been poor, thus compounding the opinions that both she and her baby were no better than they should have been). Many of the comments directed at him in both the workhouse and Sowerbury's are of this nature.
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Choisya
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Re: Staves (Chapters) 1-2: The Undeserving Poor.

Yes, an excellent example dulcinea3.




dulcinea3 wrote:


Choisya wrote:
A great many of Dickens' novels deal with the 'undeserving poor' because, like Webb, he wanted to draw attention to this problem.




Certainly a prime example of this is poor little Oliver Twist, who was judged by having been born in a workhouse to an unwed mother (who was also supposed to have been poor, thus compounding the opinions that both she and her baby were no better than they should have been). Many of the comments directed at him in both the workhouse and Sowerbury's are of this nature.


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