A Christmas Carol (1843)

by Charles Dickens

Most of us can identify the source of "Bah, humbug." We've all described a miser as "a Scrooge." We've likely seen A Christmas Carol on screen if not on stage. But how many of us have actually read the story in Dickens's own words?

Published in December 1843, A Christmas Carol was an immediate success and remains Dickens's most popular work. The tale of the misanthropic Ebenezer Scrooge's having a change of heart after Christmas Eve visits by four ghosts is characteristic Dickens: sentimental and socially concerned.

Dickens wrote the Christmas tale to inspire the well-off to charity as the economic recession of the 1840s worsened the plight of the poor. But while A Christmas Carol decries the poverty and selfishness in Victorian society, it is more optimistic than many of Dickens's novels. The bleak future shown Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is averted because Scrooge is moved to change.

Today, when economic disparities are widening, Dickens's message of responsibility for our fellow human beings remains relevant.


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