In A Christmas Carol (New York: Pocket Books, 2007), Dickens tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean and selfish businessman, who on the night before Christmas meets three ghosts of Christmases past, present and future. He changes greatly through magic experiences with the ghosts that guide him to many places. Ultimately, the next morning, Scrooge finds himself in bed again, and realizes he is back. He becomes a generous man and brings happiness to his fellows.
There are many highlights in this book. Humor plays an interesting role in the narration. The narrator is like a mysterious man behind the curtain, and is somewhat of a surprise. It makes me wonder who that is, certainly, it is Dickens himself. Moreover, the use of narrator foreshortens the time for character development. “I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book,” he wrote in the preface, “to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humor with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly.” This explanation presumes that the book is intended for holiday enjoyment. I find it amusing to watch Scrooge’s reaction as the spirits startle him. It is an exquisite blend of comedy and horror. From Bob Cratchit’s example, we learn that happiness is not tied up with wealth. Scrooge’s love for money is relentless that even his fiancée left him. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Greed is the root of Scrooge’s immorality. Fortunately, in the end, we see the amazing transformation on Scrooge, though it might be exaggerated.
I especially like the festive atmosphere the book created. I rejoiced in the dance revelry of the Fezziwigs. I felt that distance diminishes and I was involved in the scene. Reading and re-reading A Christmas Carol is akin to watching Buddy the Elf movie again and again. It is like sitting by a hearth and the warmth of the fire cheers you. We all have a need for love; we are eager to get ourselves back to ourselves. That is why those stories are irresistible. In addition, I was impressed with the vividness of Dickens’s language. For instance, he describes Scrooge as “A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire, secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster” (6). However, A Christmas Carol is not what I would call an easy read. There is dense description.
The novella was written in 19th century Victorian England, when Industrial Revolution began. It reflects the harsh living conditions of the lower class and gives us glimpses of holiday celebrations of that time. When it was published, it gained instant popularity as both a tale for the poor and a social commentary. The book was so popular that it became synonymous with Christmas and defined the notion of it. Although Christmas is not a public holiday in China, we can see the influence it has had over the years. Young people in the cities now go to the mall, send cards, and get together on Christmas Eve. The Chinese people know Dickens as a great writer, but among his works, most people have not heard of this title. It is possible that with the increasing popularity of Christmas holiday, more and more people will become familiar with this little book and start to celebrate the genuine traditions of Christmas. I hope that more of my fellows could understand the true meanings of Christmas, love and benevolence.