A Christmas Carol

A Secular Christmas: Examining Religion in Dickens' A Christmas Carol

While in Christianity Christmas maintains certain religious icons that help school boys and girls remember the story of the birth of Christ, had Tiny Tim attempted to recite the Christian myth he likely would have earned a swift stroke of the hickory stick for his ignorance. In a novel chronicling the conversion of a bourgeois capitalist during the calendar's most celebrated holiday, Charles Dickens tears the public anniversary from its Christian roots and establishes the season as a time of humanitarianism and communal charity in a secular world, where the actions bestowed in kindness hold more weight than the dogma from which they stem. Consequently, while such traditional religious acts as going to church, donating to charity, and prayer exist in Dickens' A Christmas Carol, they survive merely as religious, not Christian, actions. In this manner, Dickens successfully captures the philanthropic nature of the Christian holiday-the Christmas spirit-in order to denounce the materialistic world of capitalism while carefully avoiding preaching an Old World message of Christianity in a post-Darwinian society.

The 1830s and 1840s saw a sudden shift in social thinking that not only radically altered the economic theory of the...

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