A Christmas Carol — A Startling Analysis!!!

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by citizenzen, Dec 19, 2014.

  1. citizenzen, Dec 19, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014

    citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #1
    Last night, watching the 1938 version of the story, I had an epiphany. The most incredible part being that it seemed so obvious, yet it had never occurred to me. Everybody I talked to today (my wife and six professional adults, including three writers) said they hadn't thought of this before. And so I bring it to you, the esteemed members of MR.

    Spoiler: Scrooge was supposed to die that night.

    When the Ghost of Christmas Future showed Scrooge his grave, that was not a foretelling of things to come some day in the future, it was the indication that his time had come to an end, right there, right now and it was only Scrooge's sincere and complete transformation that saved him from dying that night the spirits visited him.

    I don't know why it took me so long to see it, but Scrooge dies in his bed that night—had it not been for his encounter with the spirits* and his enlightenment.

    Thoughts?




    *which were probably a manifestation of him being mostly-dead.
     
  2. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #2
    What the Dickens are you talking about?

    I thought every schoolchild realized by now that Ken Kesey time traveled back from The Summer of Love as part of a CIA sponsored experiment and slipped a hit of acid into Scrooge's little saucepan of gruel that he was preparing on the hob.
     
  3. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #3
    I recommend you read the book, its a great read and includes details that many of the adaptations omit. As for Scrooge dying, I'm not sure you could miss that, as he was being thrown into the grave by Christmas future. The story is coy about the exact time he dies however, purposely not showing the year. Its up to the reader to make that guess I suppose.
     
  4. Huntn, Dec 20, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014

    Huntn macrumors G5

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    #4
    For the OP a "maybe". I never felt he was supposed to die, but to remind him among other things of his mortality. These experiences including seeing his grave were to give him perspective about his life, help him recognizes the errors of his ways which is commendable. :)

    MV5BMjAwMDA5NzcxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTc4ODMxOA@@._V1_SY317_CR15,0,214,317_AL_.jpg

    I love the Reginald Owen version of this movie. Not to start a debate, and while keeping in mind this book was published in 1843, I've always disagreed regarding the notion of religion, people, and punishment, the kind of punishment that Bob Marley gets. If there is an interactive God, the threat of punishment does not make you a better person, arguably it just makes you change your behavior, a very human notion of godly justice and motivation. So imo there is much merit in giving Scrooge perspective, but no merit in threatening him with eternal suffering.
     
  5. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #5
    I did read the book (the final two of five chapters) after watching the movies to see it in Dicken's own words. While I agree that he is somewhat coy about what year Scrooge dies, a little deductive reasoning leads back to the night that the spirits visit.

    For instance, the first visage that the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come brings before Scrooge is a group of businessmen talking about Scrooge's death, saying it happened the night before.

    This establishes that he died on Christmas Eve, though, as you suggest, it could be that he died some other year in the future. However, the continued dialogue does not support that likelihood. The businessmen go on to talk about his funeral and how no one is going to attend. According to this future, Scrooge was still loathed, he never had the opportunity to show the world his transformation. That makes no sense if he died a year or more later, it only makes sense if he died that very night.

    A somewhat ambiguous (time-wise) vision regards the people who stole Scrooge's personal belongings. They are described as a charwoman (a cleaning lady), a laundress and an undertaker. The part that befuddles me the most is that its unlikely the cleaning lady or laundress would have been working on Christmas Day in order to find the body. But this does appear to have been the case regardless of whether it had happened that year or years down the line. And since the theives describe a Scrooge as a horrible man, that agains leads to the conclusion that he died that night before having the chance to show the world his changed ways. Dickens apparently just expects the reader to not question how the body was stumbled upon the next day.

    Dickens stretches time even further when later Scrooge is shown a family he had lent money to and the husband tells the wife of his death.

    That half-drunken woman perhaps being one of the thieves, spending her ill-gotten money on drink. The most interesting thing here being that if he talked to that woman, "last night," then the date must be December 26. Dickens smears the timeline a bit, wandering beyond Christmas Day, but just enough to aid the narrative and likely not to be noticed by the reader.

    The death of Tiny Tim is definitely another year or more in the future, but it doesn't necessarily follow that these other visions were also years away. Scrooges wretched reputation and the lack of sorrow over his death is clear evidence that he didn't have the opportunity to show the world his new self.

    This is why he was so giddy at awakening on Christmas Day. He hadn't only learned an incredible lesson and transformed himself, he had been given a chance to cheat death and live another day. Had he not so clearly and completely changed as a human being, death was going to take him right then and there, and only chose not to because it was touched by Scrooge's sincere and total change of heart.



    ----------

    Please. Start a debate.

    Maybe we can get this thing moved to PRSI.

    :D
     
  6. Huntn macrumors G5

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    #6
    It s been a while since I've seen it. I can agree that if he had not had his epifiny, Scoorge might have been destined to die that night, but I've always taken it as more of a warning than a deadline. :)
     
  7. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #7
    This is the way I'd always seen it as well.

    That's why I was so surprised to realize otherwise.
     
  8. Scepticalscribe Contributor

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    #8
    That has been the way I viewed the story as well.

    Indeed, until citizenzen's OP, (and thread) I hadn't considered that he might have been due to die that night, but rather, that he had received a warning (rather than an immediate deadline…)
     
  9. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #9
    That is the most interesting thing about it, that we've all interpreted it the same way ... despite what I believe are pretty glaring clues otherwise.

    Is this a question about how the story is written or how it's read? Has the interpretation changed over time, with the harsher subtext giving way to the less dire "warning" that we are now accustomed to?

    In the (dreadful) 1970's musical version starring Albert Finney, the filmmakers even threw in a segment where Scrooge descends into Hell, so it's apparent that some people were already onto that aspect of the story of Scrooge facing his death that night.

    So why does it seem like such an unexpected twist now?
     
  10. Scepticalscribe, Dec 20, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

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    #10
    Perhaps, because western society has become quite good at distancing itself from unexpected death and from avoiding situations where death is a daily occurrence and has to be acknowledged.

    For all of the discussions about desensitisation and violence, by and large, the western world (at least the European part of it) is not a violent place. Not only that, with modern health services, it is an awful lot less random that it used to be in health terms, and most people live long and relatively healthy lives. Indeed, it is quite possible to live life without the experience of seeing someone die, or attending funerals where the deceased is laid out.

    Therefore, lacking the experience of the possible immediacy of death, (which the Victorians for whom Dickens wrote most certainly had - there was nothing surprising about unexpected or sudden death at that time - the experience of it was upsetting, but the fact was not surprising, and this is something which also serves to highlight the singular fact that in the portrayal of the aftermath of Scrooge's own death to himself, the feature of anyone being upset was strikingly absent), we tend instead to look to what we choose to interpret as the moral of the story (Scrooge receives a stark warning which stresses his mortality after which he repents and reforms), rather than the bleak and very possible fact of the story, (Scrooge was to die that night, and only after a magisterial act of persuasion on his part, which required an act of utter character transformation conveyed with the force of terrified conviction, then, and only then, was he somewhat reluctantly granted a stay of execution, or a deferral of his death).

    It is an interesting hypothesis, citizenzen, and one I must confess I had never considered. You could well be onto something with this, and it is entirely possible that this aspect of the story was received and interpreted differently in Victorian times.
     
  11. Gregg2 macrumors 603

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    #11
    He did die. The about face was an alternate ending. Dickens was the first to employ this "let the reader choose" ending.
     
  12. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #12
    He purposely does not provide a date of his death on the tombstone so that its up to the reader to decide when. With Marley dying on Christmas eve and I believe the people selling his clothes/bed curtains stating something about dying on Christmas eve (going from memory so I can't be sure), Dickens is telling us he would have died on Christmas eve, he does not state which Christmas eve.

    You cannot state emphatically that it is the case, because its missing in the book.
     
  13. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #13
    That's one of my favorite versions as well.

    ChristmasCarol.png
    Believe it or not, this version is one the closet adaptations to the book. It adds some content that's not in the book (the angel of christmas future chasing him around London on the horses), but other then that artist license, its extremely close to the book
     
  14. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #14
    The book can be read online...
    ...and if it is to be believed, then:

    Stave I: Marley's Ghost, reveals that Mayley died on Christmas Eve, seven years earlier.

    "Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years," Scrooge replied. "He died seven years ago, this very night."​

    The visions that take place in Stave IV: The Last of the Spirits all occur in the future.

    The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come conveyed him, as before—though at a different time, he thought: indeed, there seemed no order in these latter visions, save that they were in the Future...​
     
  15. LadyX macrumors 68020

    LadyX

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    #15
    A Christmas Carol — A Startling Analysis!!!

    LOL. I've read through this discussion but I'm lost, I didn't understand what you all are talking about. Perhaps because I haven't read the book.



    However, I watched Zemeckis' which is this one and I remember it had a couple of scary scenes. I was kind of surprised. My little sister and her friends had to leave because they were too scared.
     
  16. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #16
    But there are enough clues in the story to logically lead one to that conclusion.

    The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come first shows Scrooge a group of businessmen talking amongst themselves.


    The Ghost is showing Scrooge a Christmas yet to come. If Scrooge died the night before Christmas, then he died on Christmas Eve, the same night the spirits came to him.

    So then the question arises, what year did it occur? Is the spirit showing Scrooge a vision of a Christmas a year or more in the future? Again the dialogue provides the answer.

    Had Scrooge lived and had the opportunity to share his new self, then that dialogue would have been quite different. Nobody was going to attend his funeral. This shows that Scrooge never had a chance to fulfill his promise to live his life a changed man. The only way that makes sense is if he died before he had the chance to prove it.

    And again the story backs it up. Scrooge is show his dead body. He is shown his grave. He is dead (or really, really close to it) and only by the miracle of touching the spirit with his heartfelt transformation is he given the exceedingly unlikely chance of living again.
     
  17. localoid macrumors 68020

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    #17
    The book indicates that the visions you named, which includes Scrooge being shown his dead body, all of which take place in Stave IV: The Last of the Spirits, all occur in the future.

    Quote from Stave IV follows:

     
  18. turtle777 macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    LOL, what's a professional adult ?

    I'm probably just an amateur adult, hence the question ;) :p

    -t
     
  19. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #19
    Yes.

    But is the next day not in the future as well?

    And you have to account for the lack of any acknowledgement of his changed state. Had he lived the next day and beyond, people would have noticed his transformation, yet it isn't there in the book. A very plausible explanation is that he never made it to that next Christmas Day.
     
  20. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #20
    Adults employed in a profession.
     
  21. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #21
    The book gives me the distinct impression that Scrooge returns to his original point in time.

    The last sentence from Stave IV:

    Stave V: The End of It begins with:

    And Scrooge notices that his bed curtains aren't torn down, like they were in his vision of the future.

     
  22. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #22
    Okay.

    I haven't been arguing otherwise.
     
  23. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #23
    Then I'm noting understanding what you mean when you said: "But is the next day not in the future as well?"
     
  24. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #24
    Scrooge was going to die on Christmas Eve (or early Christmas Day) just as his partner Jacob Marley had seven years before.

    The first vision by the GOCYTC was of a group of businessmen commenting on Scrooge's passing occurred the next day, Christmas Day, just hours into the future. His body lying dead in the bed, likewise just hours (perhaps even minutes) in the future.
     
  25. localoid macrumors 68020

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    #25
    A future "just hours (perhaps even minutes) in the future" doesn't make much sense, in relation to the accounts presented in the book.

    In the book, at the end of Stave III, "The bell struck Twelve." So, it's Christmas Day as Stave IV begins, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows up, and Scrooge says:


    Since it's already Christmas Day, and this spirit of "Christmas yet to come" is to show Scrooge "things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us", to me, this indicates that the visions shown to Scrooge take place at least one year in the future, perhaps several years into the future.

    Tiny Tim is dead in one of the visions outlined in this Stave. It would make no sense whatsoever for the Cratchit family to be acting as the book mentions, if they're in a future only "hours or minutes into the future" in which Tiny Tim has suddenly died that very night, e.g., the mother and her daughters wouldn't be sitting around quietly engaged in sewing, Peter wouldn't be causally reading from a book, and the father wouldn't be talking about having already visited Tiny Tim's grave, unless they had one hell of a quick funeral and burial!

     

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