LEELANAU ENTERPRISE Thursday, November 17, 2022
Glen Arbor Players present ‘A Christmas Carol’
By Kathleen McCormick
Incorporating the festivity of the season and the spirit of redemption, Charles Dickens’ classic tale, “A Christmas Carol,” has never been out of print and has itself become a valued part of the Christmas celebration. The Glen Arbor Players will present a classic radio version of the timeless tale, Dec. 8-10.
Born on February 7, 1812 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, Charles John Huffam Dickens is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian Era. Dickens’ first notable literary success came in 1836, with the serial publication of “The Pickwick Papers.” This novella pioneered the serial method for narrative fiction which became the primary Victorian mode of novel publication.
It was in 1843, following visits to the United States and Canada, that Dickens began work on his first Christmas novella, “A Christmas Carol.” The most popular of his holiday stories, the novel proved quite effective in promoting renewed enthusiasm for the joys of Christmas in both Britain and America.
Dickens’ experiences of witnessing the difficulties of manufacturing workers in Manchester, England, and of observing terrible conditions at a London school are thought to have influenced his writing. However, his advocacy for the poor began at home, as his father was taken to a debtor’s prison. As a result, Charles had to quit school for several years and work in a rat-infested boot-blacking factory.
As for the jolly aspects of the novel, the celebrations capture the “zeitgeist,” or spirit of the times. The British were bringing back some past traditions, such as carols; and exploring new customs, with Queen Victoria popularizing aspects of the German Christmas, including the Christmas tree. Christmas had become newly festive and, as it was his favorite holiday, Dickens was quick to make himself its celebrant and poet!
Ghosts and Christmas, though seemingly at odds, had long been combined in European folklore. In Dickens’ works, he not only presents them as elements of folklore, but also as symptoms of his characters’ consciences. Obviously, Scrooge’s guilt provides the perfect breeding ground for such spooks. However, before dismissing ghosts as natural figments of disturbed imaginations, it should be noted that Dickens was very interested in the paranormal and was an early member of The Ghost Club!
Dickens considered the Christmas season as a time when mankind could pause for a moment from hectic distractions and focus on good things. He delighted in the effect of Christmas on humanity, and his Christmas novels are said to be written as fables. The breaking down of fear, hatred and hostility, followed by the release of the mortified spirit into harmony, is the theme of all his Christmas novels.
“A Christmas Carol” has been adapted countless times for film, stage, opera and other media. George C. Scott, Albert Finney, Alastair Sim, Reginald Owen, Frederic March, Basil Rathbone and Jim Backus (Mr. Magoo) are just a few who have portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge.