When you read, re-read, or think about A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, the ending always comes to mind (how could it not), but there’s also a whole myriad of images that flood back: the knocker-turned-Marley, the bare furnishings and Scrooge’s miserly mood, and then there’s Tiny Tim.
In A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens writes of Ebeneezer Scrooge:
“External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty.”
Those lines perfectly capture the essence that is an old, bitter, angry and already-dead man. We could imagine (even before the ghostly spirits tell us) that something has happened to make him that way, but we can’t imagine what would have destroyed him so completely that he no longer feels any kind of warmth. He’s shut off from the world and void of being. He has fallen as far from human kindness and goodness as we could possibly imagine from an everyman.
And, he likes the darkness…
After all, that loneliness was hard won. He was that “solitary child, neglected by his friends… left there still” at boarding school. Scrooge has known that loneliness his whole life, but he also knew laughter, joy and love. He knew the emotions. He knew the people.
All the pieces were there at various points in his life. Taken together, we might have expected that they’d lead him down a path of happiness, success and even family. He turns toward greed, anger and pride; and that slippery slope would have been his own worst end (according to the Ghost of the Future).
But, there is a future after all.
For that, some would call the severe about-face over-the-top melodrama, but on days like today, we (or maybe it’s just me) need to hope that all will be well with the world, that redemption is possible, that good human kindness lies at the heart of us all (even as we witness and experience the hatred and violence all year round).
What would we give to hear these words from the worst offenders:
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”
Perhaps it’s enough to believe that there’s good in the world; and, for those who are in the depths of bitterness, that change can (and will) happen…
How do these quotes from (and about) Scrooge affect you? Are there quotes from other books that affect you in a similar way?