Merry Christmas Eve everybody and welcome to the holiday edition of Throwback Thursday. To keep it short and sweet, I’ll be giving you a quick history of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.
Published in 1812, A Christmas Carol follows the renowned Ebenezer Scrooge. Generations upon generations know his name and his go-to response, “Bah! Humbug!” I also think it is fair to assume many more generations will come to learn of his eventful Christmas Eve night. However, it seems that over time and through the release of adaptation after adaptation, the book has all but disappeared.
It is Charles Dickens’ writing, though, that should keep his own story alive, and not just the Mickey Mouse or Mister Magoo cartoons. When Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, he was drowning in debt and tied to his publisher. However, that was not the only thing motivating him to write his timeless novel in less than two months’ time.
While it may have been the final push, what really motivated Dickens was his environment and the poverty he both witnessed and experienced. When he was young, his father had gone to debtors’ prison, leaving Dickens with no choice but to work in a factory; he was just a child. This experience shaped the man Dickens would become, making the reformation of labor something he would advocate for his entire life.
In addition to his own experience, in 1843 (at the age of 31) Dickens was given access to a report which detailed child labor in the United Kingdom. With this, he was able to see the cruel reality behind rushing to become an active participant in the Industrial Revolution. Upon seeing what factories looked like and learning what the schedules of young children were, Dickens said:
“I have very seldom seen, in all the strange and dreadful things I have seen in London and elsewhere anything so shocking as the dire neglect of soul and body exhibited in these children. And although I know; and am sure as it is possible for one to be of anything which has not happened; that it is the prodigious misery and ignorance of the swarming masses of mankind in England, the seeds of its certain ruin are sown.”
The rest, as they say, was history. You can see how his inspiration became the foundation for writing his story. A story that would urge everybody who read it to stop prioritizing the modernized economy and start prioritizing the caring of one another; and while the movie adaptations all do a pretty good job of transferring his message, there is no experience comparable to reading Charles Dickens’ words.
Therefore, I ask you all, now more than ever, to read the less-than-seventy-page novel. Feel how his words consume you. Yes, it will take more time than simply watching a movie, but its effects will last longer.