Scrooge: a portrait of human bitterness

A-christmas-carol1We all know Ebenezer Scrooge. He is the main character in A Christmas Carol, the selfish old man who never gave to the poor and was visited by three spirits who teach him the meaning of Christmas (albeit, from a 19th Century perspective), as well as the error of his ways. Though, I think it’s inappropriate to call him the villain of the story. He’s merely a flawed character.

However, most people think he is the villain because Hollywood has done a very good job of altering the complexity of his character. Putting him in family movies has done a number on his human character, rendering him into a mere sourpuss designed solely to be redeemed. I looked around to find the most dumbed down version of Scrooge’s character. Perhaps the worst I’ve found is A Christmas Carol: The Movie (2001). In there, they have Scrooge send someone to evict some tenants and send them to a debtor’s prison. This was solely written in to make Scrooge look unnecessary more evil. This is the result of somebody who has never read the book being allowed to take the creative helm of an adaptation of A Christmas Carol.

When looking into Scrooge’s character, it’s important to remember that the book was released in the year 1843, where the poor were extremely disadvantaged. In the book, Scrooge was a money lender, a person who offers small loans at high interest. He’s also shown to be an old man, living a cold, bitter, and lonely existence. Remember that days in England during the winters in that era were very cold and full of snow. You’d die if you stood out there for long enough in the night.

I also understand that Scrooge is quite hated within the setting of A Christmas Carol. Let me put it this way: if you were in the year 1843, doing a job that everyone hated you for, if your living alone in the cold of London, with only a fireplace to keep you company, how would you feel? Would it make you question your very existence? Because that’s the kind of world A Christmas Carol is set in, a world that’s as sour as the people it fosters.

That may actually make Scrooge sound more sympathisable. However, given the number of Hollywood depictions distorting and simplifying his character, the name “Scrooge” has come to be synonymous with anyone who is miserably selfish (though this term is usually used against the rich).

With that said, Merry Christmas everyone. I’ll be back on December 27th.


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