Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Christmas Carol - Notes

v     This book tells the story of Christmas time in England during the industrial revolution in the 19th century, when many children had to work in factories, and many people died from starvation.

v     The original book has five chapters, which Charles Dickens called 'staves' meaning song verses.

v     A big inspiration for this story came from the American writer, Washington Irving, who lived in England for a time, and wrote about the ideal English Christmas. Irving and Dickens met, and were friends, and Irving even had a brother named Ebenezer.

v     A Christmas Carol is the first book to use Christmas as a humanitarian holiday, a time to give to the poor. Dickens's concern for the poor has been called his "Carol Philosophy".

v     Charles Dickens first wanted to write a political pamphlet (an essay) begging people to help the poor, but decided a children's story would move people's hearts more.

v     It took him six weeks to write. He released the book on Dec 19th, and sold over 6,000 copies by Christmas Eve.

v     The book was immediately adapted as a theatrical play, and has since been remade in films, on radio, and on television. Dickens also read the story publicly over 100 times.

v     A Christmas Carol is largely responsible for the Christmas holiday as we experience it today.

Cast of Characters (Zoznam Postáv):

Ebenezer Scrooge - A rich, old man, and a landlord (prenájomca). All he cared about was earning money, and saving it away. His favourite phrase was, "Bah, humbug!" It means, "you're wrong, and I don't care anyway!"

GRAMMAR NOTE: In English, you don't give money "for people", you give it "to people".

Jacob Marley (not Bob!) - Scrooge's business partner, who died seven years ago.

Bob Cratchit & Tiny Tim, by Norman Rockwell

Bob Cratchit - Scrooge's secretary, who helped him keep his account books.

Tiny Tim - Bob Cratchit's youngest son. He was weak and sickly, and walks with a crutch.

Frances - Scrooges sister, now deceased (dead). Charles Dickens also had a sister named Frances, who was a talented singer, and died young.

Fred - Scrooge's nephew, son of Frances.

Belle - Scrooge's ex-fiancee, who married someone else when she saw that Scrooge cared more about money than her.

Plot (Dej Príbehu) (SPOILER ALERT!!!):

1.      This story begins on Christmas Eve, with Scrooge and Bob Cratchit working in their office. Scrooge is visited by his nephew Fred, who invites him to Christmas dinner. Scrooge refuses, and sends him away. Then come two men asking for money for charity. Scrooge sends them away too, empty handed. Bob is polite to all these people, wishing them all a merry Christmas, for which Scrooge threatens to fire him.

2.      Scrooge goes home, and is visited by...

Jacob Marley, original book illustration by John Leech 

1st Ghost of the Night - Jacob Marley
What did he look like? He was an old man, covered in heavy chains that represented the sins keeping him from going up to heaven. He used a handkerchief to keep his jaw in place.

What did he say? He warned Scrooge that when he dies, he will have chains too, if he doesn't change his behaviour. He tells Scrooge that three ghosts will visit him that night.

3.  Scrooge is then visited by three more ghosts:

2nd Ghost - The Ghost of Christmas Past

What did it look like? Good question, it kept changing. It wore a white robe, and a metal cap, like a candle extinguisher, and a bright light shone from its head.

Where did he take Scrooge?
1.He took Scrooge back to his lonely childhood, on Christmas Eve, when he had to sit alone at school, with no home to go to. Then his sister comes to take him home.
            2. To his First boss, Mr. Fezziwig, a good man who treated Scrooge like a son.
            3. To Belle, his ex-fiancee, who left him because of his greed.
            4. To Belle's family, later on, as they laughed about Scrooge, sitting alone.

Scrooge pulls down the ghost's hat, causing it to disappear

3rd Ghost - The Ghost of Christmas Present

illustration by John Leech

What did he look like? He looked like Father Christmas, a jolly giant with dark brown hair. He wore a green robe, and a wreath (venec) on his head, with icicles (cencúle) hanging on it. He holds a torch, and has a scabbard with no sword in it. As the night progresses, he gets older and older, until he disappears at midnight on the final 12th day.

Where did he take Scrooge?
            1. To Fred's house, as they celebrate Christmas, and make fun of Scrooge.
            2. To Bob Cratchit's house, where they all say a prayer to Scrooge, even though he's hardly done anything for them. The ghost tells Scrooge that Tiny Tim will die if he isn't helped.
            3. To Christmas celebrations around England, in mines, on ships, and in light houses, etc.

4th Ghost - The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

illustration by John Leech

What did he look like? He looked like Death, wearing a long black robe that covered his face. He never spoke, always pointing.

Where did he take Scrooge?
            1. To a stock exchange, where three businessmen joke about attending a funeral. They'll only go if the food is free.
            2. To his house, where his maid steals his things.
            3. To a pawn shop, where his maid, laundress, and undertaker all sell his things.
            4. To a young couple - the only ones emotional about his death, but they're happy because now they have more time to pay off their debts.
            5. To Bob Cratchit, as he and his family mourn the death of Tiny Tim.
            6. Finally, to Scrooge's grave, in an old churchyard.

4.  Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning, and is a changed man. He sends a turkey to the Cratchit house, and then goes to Fred's house for dinner. The next day, he raises Bob Cratchit's salary, and becomes like a second father to Tiny Tim. From then on, Scrooge is kind to everyone, who are often puzzled at why and how quickly he changed his ways.

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