A Christmas Carol

Have a Capitalist Christmas: The Critique of Christmas Time in "A Christmas Carol"

An audience member's gleeful first-hand account of Charles Dickens's public reading of "A Christmas Carol" unwittingly exposes an often overlooked contradiction in the story's climax: "Finally, there is Scrooge, no longer a miser, but a human being, screaming at the 'conversational' boy in Sunday clothes, to buy him the prize turkey 'that never could have stood upon his legs, that bird'" (96). Perhaps he is no longer a miser but, by this description, Scrooge still plays the role of a capitalist oppressor, commanding underlings to fetch him luxuries. While Dickens undoubtedly lauds Scrooge's epiphany and ensuing change, "A Christmas Carol" also hints at the author's resentment for an industrial society's corrupted notion of the "Christmas spirit." Through instances of goodwill which Christmas provokes, Dickens suggests that Christmas is only an interruptive exception from the otherwise capitalistic calendar. Even when Scrooge becomes altruistic, as in the above scene, his philanthropy still operates under the guise of capitalism, measured in economic terms and aimed ultimately at providing himself with pleasure.

Dickens subtly turns his critique of...

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