“Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know, that ages of incessant labour, by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!” – The Ghost of Jacob Marley, A Christmas Carol
One of Dickens’ most beloved tales and a personal favorite of mine, A Christmas Carol, is a relatively simplistic allegory and seldom considered one of Dickens’ important literary contributions. The importance of the tale lies in the emotional depth, descriptive narration, and endearing characters. The novella was written in 1843 with the intention of drawing attention to the plight of England’s poor. In the tale, Dickens combines a description of hardships faced by the poor with a sentimental celebration of the Christmas season. The calloused character of the penny-pinching Ebenezer Scrooge, transforms into a generous and joyous individual after his confrontation with three spirits of Christmas.
The true message of the entire work can be found in the above quote, that there will always be those who need our help and that regret cannot make up for missed opportunities to extend aid or comfort to our fellow man. Every year I read this, I try to think of ways I can extend my faith and hope to others.
Though this novella was published over 170 years ago, the question remains: how can we help those less fortunate this Christmas?
(Much of this post was taken from an article I wrote for Clio’s Eye back in 2009. You can find the full text here)
Kaplan, Fred. Dickens: A Biography, 1st ed. New York: Morrow, 1988. p 1- 607.
Gullett, Ryan. “A Christmas Carol-A History in Film.” Clio’s Eye. December 1, 2009. Accessed November 5, 2015. (Read More Here)