WHRO: Literature Comes Alive with A Christmas Carol

The Power of Literature Comes Alive with A Christmas Carol

December 11, 2015

A Christmas Carol has become synonymous with Christmas time and the holiday spirit. Why? On the surface, the 1843 novella is rather simplistic, all of the action of the story stems from a central allegory that is easily decoded.  Dickens’ other works like David Copperfield are certainly more complex and more respected pieces of literature. However, the endearing characters he depicts in the yuletide classic create a strong emotional bond with the reader that has survived for decades. The human element in A Christmas Carol strengthens the novella’s staying power and has made it an icon of what Christmas means.

The story begins at the counting house of Scrooge and Marley on Christmas Eve. Scrooge and his employee, Bob Crachit, are working when Scrooge’s nephew Fred stops by to invite his uncle to Christmas dinner. Scrooge declines, believing Christmas to be a “humbug.” After reluctantly giving Bob the next day off, Scrooge heads home for another evening alone. That evening, the spirit of his head business partner, Jacob Marley, who relates the terror of his afterlife, visits Scrooge. He informs Scrooge that three ghosts will visit him through the night. The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come take Scrooge on a journey during which he is forced to confront all aspects of his life. The morning after this incredible journey, Scrooge awakens with a fresh and positive outlook on the world.

Charles Dickens knew that the power of all literature comes from the impact it makes in society. In A Christmas Carol, Dickens was making a conscious social critique about the plight of the industrial poor. It was important that people of all classes could read this story. All of his novels were published serially in monthly or weekly installments. A full-length novel in 1836 cost more than a full week’s salary. This serial system brought the costs of his novels down significantly allowing his work to be purchased and enjoyed by the lower classes of Industrial England.

The Virginia Stage company performs thier version of A Christmas Carol, adapted by Patrick Mullins, December 9th-24th. For more details on show times and tickets go to VAStage.com.