Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

In my AP English Literature class, we were assigned to read A Christmas Carol over Thanksgiving break. Believe me, I was the complete opposite of excited. After a terrible introduction to Charles Dickens via Great Expectations in the ninth grade, I had sworn to hate Dickens for time and all eternity. The book sat like a hideous demon on the stack of books on my bedside table, a weight on my brain that needed to be done. Finally, I picked the book up and began to read it, sort of. I flipped through the pages, just getting more and angrier about having to read it. To procrastinate even more, I read the back cover. On the back cover, I discovered that Dickens read this story publically every Christmas Eve. This gave me an idea; try reading Dickens out loud and just buck up and give him a second chance.

Here’s is what I learned; when you are in doubt about an author, READ THEIR WRITING OUT LOUD! Dickens is like Shakespeare, if you read it silently, it’s just a bunch of words with no feeling or meaning behind it. It was not written to be read silently, it was written to be shared with an audience. Now, I’m not going to lie, I read this book out loud with a British Accent. Am I embarrassed? Nope. I never would have been able to understand his writing approach without reading it out loud. I was automatically transported back to the mid eighteen hundreds and I watched the spirits visit Scrooge one by one and saw his transformation take place.

When I first read Dickens, his over description threw me for a loop. I thought it was too much, it was forced, and it made his reading drag very much. Now after hearing it come out of my own mouth, I’ve discovered that he wrote just as he spoke. When you tell a person about something you care about, you leave nothing to their imagination. Dickens cares so much for his characters and his stories that he can’t leave anything out and I thank him for that. He gives the readers an image that will not soon be erased from their minds.

His metaphors throughout the book are so brilliant and original. He describes Scrooge’s house as a house that “one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and have forgotten the way out.” How brilliant is that personification? Can you not see that image perfectly? Mmmm… imagery is yummy.

So, I won’t lie, I was a bit creeped out when Marley’s ghost appeared. It’s a terrifying idea, having your house filled with usually lifeless bells and then suddenly chains rattling! Creeptastic, right?! But, I loved the humor that is thrown into the conversation Scrooge has with Marley. Scrooge takes the time, while terrified mind you, to speculate if a spirit can sit in a chair or not. Dickens is one funny dude.

‘Tis the Christmas season, which means it is the season for crappy holiday movies meant to warm your heart but, in truth, just make you gag because of all the special happy feelings. During the reading of this book, I wished more holiday movies took a creative approach while pounding you with moral values. Of course I am familiar with this story but I had forgotten about the two terrifying children hiding under the ghost of Christmas present’s cloak. Reading their description, I had to stop and take a minute to think about what Dickens is telling us. “Man’s Children,” symbolizing Ignorance and Want with Ignorance being pointed out as the sin Scrooge should most look out for has so much meaning to me personally as well as to all of us, I feel. I’ve always believed in the motto that ignorance is bliss. Recently though, I’ve gotten tired of holding back my feelings about everything in my life. I’ve become more direct and if I sense a problem, I have to know about it so I can clear it up. Ignorance is not bliss because in the end, ignorance leaves you all alone.

All in all, I’m so glad I gave dear Charles another chance. Now when I have to read Great Expectations again, I will hopefully appreciate it. Thanks for this assignment Mrs. Hansen!

Until next time, happy reading! Send me your book recommendations if you have them, I’d be happy to check them out and review them all! Leave any comments below! I’d love to hear them!


  1. Beautifully written! You made me excited to read Dickens. I agree with you 100% that ignorance is not at all bliss. Being ignorant is the worst thing one could do to themselves. Knowledge is power, something that I strive off of. I love you Emma, you are incredibly smart and gracious.

  2. Wonderful idea, sometimes it's the only way to understand and appreciate our good friend Dickens. :)