Growing up in the Victorian period, Christmas didnt have too much of an influence on society, particularly in England, where Dickens grew up. This could be why one might possibly find it odd that this man is known so well for his interest in Christmas, and his many stories that reflect that interest. Charles Dickens has forever changed the lives of people everywhere by the characters he portrays in his stories. From the innocent Tiny Tim, to the humbug Ebenezar Scrooge, to the mysterious ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and FutureDickens has a way to look and write about Christmas from the point of view many could not even imagine. He even brought the tradition of feisting on turkey and ham on Christmas Day into our daily December 25 ritual, now how can one not cherish the man for that.
Money had always been a worry for Dickens when he was growing up, for he was born into a struggling lower-middle class family. His father went to debtors jail when Dickens was only twelve years old. Not able to go to school anymore because of his fathers financial problems, Dickens was forced to get a job. This obviously caused him to have a lack of appropriate education, so Dickens began to develop on interest into books. He was later sent back to school when his dad got out of jail, but when his parents could again no longer afford to pay for their sons education, he found work in a law
office, then as a newspaper reporter. It was here that Dickens taught himself shorthand, (www.ucsc.edu/dickens/DEA/ACC/dickens.bio.html, Dickens Life and The Carol). This began the writing of the many Dickens classics we enjoy to this very day. One particular book being, A Christmas Carol, a well-known holiday classic.
Dickens childhood poverty lead to his compassion for the lower class, especially the children. Even in his writings, he portrayed then with sympathy as well as compassion, (Hromatko, 5). A Christmas Carol greatly reflected the life of Dickens, for just like the Crachit family, he was poor living in a four-room house. The six Crachit children correspond to the six Dickens children at that time, (www.ucsc.edu/dickens/DEA/ACC/dickens.bio.html, Dickens Life and The Carol).
One may also recall a quite mean and miserly man who went by the name of Ebenezar Scrooge; he represents Victorian England at the time Dickens wrote the story.
Victorian England was rich and snobby and didnt exactly experience what true Christmas meant, at least thats what Dickens thought, (www.fidnet.com/dap1955/dickens/christmas.html, Dickens Christmas Page). He and the other lower-class citizens, represented by Bob Crachit and his family, didnt take things for granted and appreciated what they had. Many people today compare present day Americans to Victorian England, how selfish Americans are about their wealth.
A Christmas Carol masterfully illustrates the timeless conflict between good and evil, challenging us to examine the consequences of our actionswhich, in our global community have even greater impact than Dickens times, (www.turnerlearning.com/tntlearning/christmascarol/message.html, Message to the
Educator). In 1843, while he was most active at Little Portland Street chapel, Dickens created the first and greatest of his Christmas boos, A Christmas Carol. Around this time Christmas Day was again beginning to be celebrated and the holiday transformed, (Hromatko 3). Dickens writings did greatly impact society today, in more ways than what I previously stated. Dickens has probably has more influence on the way we celebrate Christmas today, than any single individual in human history. At the beginning of the Victorian period, the celebration of Christmas was in decline. The Industrial Revolution, happening in Dickens time, allowed workers little time for the celebration of Christmas. It was the Christmas stories of Charles Dickens, particularly A Christmas Carol that rekindled the joy of Christmas in Britain, as well as America,
(www.fidnet.com/dap1955/dickens/christmas.html, Dickens Christmas Page). Dickens describes the holiday 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 the shut-up hearts freely, and to think of other people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys, (Levisohn) And that quote, I believe, is the very essence of Christmas today, not at the greedy commercialized level, but in ones heart and ones home.
Dickens presents over and over again, his idealized memory of Christmas coming from a large, not-too-well-off family, as the fathering of the family to play games such as Snap Dragon and Blind Mans Buff, both of which his model lower-middle class
father, Bob Crachit, runs home from work to play with his kids on Christmas Eve, (Allingham, 4).
Now, although Charles was baptized into the Church of England, and continued to be Anglican for the most part of his life, he turned to Unitarianism in the 1840s up until the end of his life. He favored Roman Catholics, turning his attention to the celebration of Christmas. One of his sons wrote that, for Dickens, Christmas was a great time, a really jovial time, and my father was always at his best, a splendid host, bright and jolly as a boy and throwing his heart and soul into everything that was going onAnd then the dance! There was no stopping him! (Allingham, 3). Despite all the frequent criticism of organized religion and religious dogma, Dickens loved celebrating Christmas, (www.ucsc.edu/dickens/DEA/ACC/dickens.bio.html, Dickens Life and The Carol). This is perhaps what encouraged him to write the well-known bedtime story, A Christmas Carol, along with many other Christmas stories. He even had the celebration Christmas included in his very first book, The Pickwick Papers. For Dickens, each year the deadline came for his Christmas story, in either his weekly magazine, Household Words or its successor All the Year Round, (Allingham, 2). One could hardly turn ones head toward a newsstand or a bookstore or a reading table without seeing it. The more famous be became, the more certain it was that his letters would eventually be published, (Kaplan 18)
A Christmas Carol is as popular to people today as it was when it came out over 150 years ago. As one might read the book, they would notice how Charles Dickens
continues to urge us to honor Christmas in our hearts and try to keep it all the year through his writings. He reminds us of the importance in taking notice of the lives of
those around us. Dickens famous quote, God rest you, merry gentleman, May nothing you dismay, is continually used in our world today, and Dickens writings will forever affect our society.
Works Cited Page
Allingham, Phillip V. Dickens, the Man Who Invented Christmas
Dickens, Charles. A Christmas CarolEd. Hortense H. Levisohn New York:
New York, 1966
Dickens Christmas Page http://www.fidnet.com/dap1955/dickens/christmas.html
Dickens Life and The Carol
Hromatko, Wesley. Charles Dickens
Kaplan, Fred. Dickens, A Biography. New York: New York, 1988
Message to the Educator
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