This week’s Flashback Friday: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
Some folks are probably asking what in the world does A Christmas Carol have to do with science fiction and fantasy?
This classic is so deeply rooted in our literature that it is its own trope at this point. Everything from The Muppets and The Flinstones to Mickey Mouse and Epic Rap Battles of History has adapted this book. Even children know who Scrooge is. Even SF/F has retellings and adaptations of it, including Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol and I am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for Christmas. Stepping back to the original, the classic carries elements of speculative fiction with the appearance of ghosts and the use of time travel.
I saw the movie version long before I read the book in middle school, and I didn’t fully see the layered symbolism and imagery until I spent 6 years teaching the book to Pre-AP students. (It’s amazing what you learn as you teach.) Dickens’ intended this book to not only be a lesson on the kindness of the holidays, but to serve as a social commentary on poverty and the treatment of the impoverished.
Looking at our society now and the division between the have’s and the have-nots, this book has never been more relevant.
At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge, … it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”
“Are there no prisons?”
“Plenty of prisons…”
“And the Union workhouses.” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
“Both very busy, sir…”
“Those who are badly off must go there.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
Growing up poor taught me to value what I had, but reading this book taught me to value others above myself and to help those less fortunate.
In 2016, I will continue my 12 Months of Charities and vow to do more for the world around me. I hope you’ll join me.