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Saturday, 22 November 2014

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Although I absolutely adore the Victorian period of English history and own many books about the Victorians, usually I find it hard to read books written during that time, as the language is sometimes difficult to understand as it's very different to what writing styles are like nowadays... Surprisingly, this was not the case, and I absolutely adored this novel by Charles Dickens! The language was straightforward enough for me to read without getting a headache, and the story was a lot more interesting than I had been expecting. In fact, it has made its way into my list of favourite books!

We were studying the novel for English Literature in my school, so that's where I was told to read it, as there's no reason why I would read a "Christmas" novel in the middle of November. Still, it was most enjoyable, and more of a morality tale, and even a ghost story, really. Dickens was renowned for writing books about the awful conditions the poor people suffered as a result of the rich Capitalists, as he himself had suffered a terrible childhood full of poverty. So we got to learn about the background of the story, as well as looking into the staves in great detail, analysing every little detail about how Scrooge is changing over the course of the book. 

Scrooge is a miserable, selfish old man who lives alone and keeps every penny to himself; he hates Christmas and detests the poor, saying that if they were going to die, then let them do it and "decrease the surplus population"... He was a terrible man that had no compassion at all, and was often described as having hard, cold features, but after terrifying, enlightening visits from four spirits, he changes his attitude for the better and becomes a truly wonderful, happy, caring man.

Some parts are really frightening, some are terribly sad - namely where Scrooge becomes aware of all the mistakes he made and breaks down crying - but at the end of the book I am left feeling very touched, as well as a lot more knowledgeable about just how hard it was being a Victorian person living in poverty. I had watched the Jim Carey version of the film when it first came out in the cinema, which was brilliant, but I think you should really read the book, too, to get a feel for Victorian literature.

I know Scrooge was at first perhaps the most contemptible character ever written about (except for Voldemort, maybe...) but I find him incredibly fascinating. He must be one of my favourite characters too, as he is so deep and complex, which contributed to the awful personality he gained over all those years. However, it gives me a LOT to analyse - which I like to do - so I found him very interesting. His past is very intriguing, and so is his completely wrong view of live, in my opinion. Even through his bitterness, even when he was feeling complete terror, in a way he was rather amusing, with a lot of character. "There's more a gravy than a grave about you," made me laugh, as he was in denial about Jacob Marley's apparition. And when he gradually changes through the course of the book, I'm so happy that he finds happiness and joy, as well as a love for Christmas and compassion towards all the poor, especially the Cratchits. He is truly wonderful when he changed, almost as jovial as Father Christmas himself!

My favourite scene was where Scrooge had just gotten home from work and was about to settle down for the evening, when he gets a warning from his old friend and partner, Marley. Scrooge can't believe that the ghost is real, so he has a conversation with the ghost about not believing in him. The part where Marley drags himself, wrapped in heavy chains, throughout Scrooge's dark, empty house created an incredible tension for the reader, and my heart actually started beating faster when I read it! Also, in Stave 1, I enjoyed the part where Marley flies back out into the night through Scrooge's window, where Scrooge suddenly becomes aware of all the spirits in the world and how they're all tied down by chains. It was a really spooky moment, especially as I was listening to Sonata no. 2 in b. flat minor, OP. 35, Grave "Funeral March" by Chopin at the same time!

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