A Comparison of Charles Dickens Book A Christmas Carol and Its Movie Version

The book A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a picture of the social problems of the 1840s. In the note before Dickens starts the book he says, I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea. Dickens PG 1 (1843) Dickens story seems to be addressing a general problem to the rich of his time and may have tried to encourage people to think about their fellow man. The book is directed more to the society as a hole and encourages them to take a look at their own behavior. Even though Ebenezer Scrooge under went a personal change, the book gave me the feeling that Dickens felt the entire society would face serious consequences if changes were not made to the way they treated and viewed their fellow human beings.

The industrial revolution took severe advantage of the children and the poor people of Dickens time and even though it is not mentioned directly in the story, the results of it are clearly felt. There were very distinct categories people fell into; you were either very rich or very poor. The expectations of the employer were very strict. They worked long hours with little time off. When Scrooge asked Cratchit if he wanted the entire day of Christmas off, Scrooge was very agitated and told Crotchet, you don’t think me ill-used, when I pay a days wages for no work and a poor excuse for picking a mans pocked every twenty-fifth of December. Dickens pg.

Another way that the story indicated the general feeling the rich had for the poor is the way that the two gentlemen, who were collecting for the poor, worded their request. They told Scrooge At this festive season of the year, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute. Dickens PG 61 (1843) Scrooges reply are thee no prisons? And the Union workhouses? Are they still in operation? The treadmill and the Poor Laws are in vigor then? Dickens PG 61 (1843) He obviously considered these things to be adequate to take care of the poor. They talked about a slight provision for the poor; this gave the felling that Scrooge may not have been the only stingy person of the time.

Dickens PG 61 (1843) Since these laws were passed by the rich it may have been the general feel of the time. It seems that the rich people were not interested in actually helping the poor, but gave a little to sooth their own conscience for the way they took advantage of the poor the rest of the year. The book is directed more to the society as a hole and encourages them to take a look at the way they treated people and to think about how their fellow man was suffering.

The book is very dark and cold with langue and saying that may be difficult for us to relate too. The description of London in the 1840s is very harsh and dirty and shows a large disparity between the rich and the poor. The story also seems to give the impression that if you are poor you are automatically happy, with love, family and friends, and if you are rich you have given up those things in the pursuit of riches.

The movie A Christmas Carol made in 1999 has very similar themes, but seems to have changed the focus of the story. The industrial revolution is not as important in the movie as it was in the book. It is not something that most of us have experienced and we cannot relate to it. The movie gives far more importance to Scrooges individual cruelty and lack of concern for the people around him. The movie seem to be directed more at individual change and less a commentary on society as a hole. It speaks more to individual choices and consequences. Our modern society cannot relate to the restrictions an employer could place on his employees.

If we didnt get paid vacation, sick time, holidays, and a forty-hour workweek we would be screaming abuse. Here in America we pay our taxes to support many social programs to help people with limited incomes. Our taxes dont go to support workhouses or debtors prisons so we could feel superior to the rich people in the book. Even with these programs we still have homeless and poor people, but they are less visible and easier to ignore. In Dickens time the homeless were everywhere and you could not miss them. In America you have to go to the inner cities or extremely rural areas to find similar problems. What we also seem to forget, as Americans is the suffering that still occurs in the third world countries today. Many of these countries are undergoing a delayed industrial revolution and have similar problems that Dickens identified in his book.

Even though this version of a Christmas Carol did a better job of depicting London in the 1800 then any other version that I have seen, it still didnt capture how dirty, cold and desperate it was for the majority of the people. The movie also updates the language and gives us cultural trigger that we can relate too. The addition of a middle class, in the movie, gives us someone that our society can relate too. I feel it also is the reason for the shift in focus. Most of America is middle class and do not fit into the two classes identified in the book, and it would be easy to feel that the very rich of our time are the only ones who need to hear the message of this story.

By adding the middle class it allows the movie to focus more on individual change and gives the story more meaning to our modern society. The book gave equal value to each of the scenes that the ghost of Christmas past showed to Scrooge. His change of out look seems to be sudden. Each visitation had an impact but it was not until the final spirit that he makes a true change of heart. The movie puts more emphasis on Scrooges fianc then the book. The addition of a monologue by Scrooge in the scenes with his fianc made the relationship more important. It gives us a stronger since of regret, and a gradual change of heart. All of us have experienced lost love and his regret makes him more human and someone that we have more in common with.

Does the shift to more personal choices take anything away from the point of the story? The story lends its self well to either view and does not detract from overall theme of the story. We could look at our modern society and see things that are very similar to the exploitation of Dickens time. I think Scrooge could represent the corporate giants and CEOs that we have heard so much about in resent news. The CEOS that have bankrupted their companies and left the employees out in the cold are very similar to the way the industrial revolution took advantage of poor. Even though our personal choices are important and the movies depiction of this was very good, our society could benefit from a look at the way the system treats individuals.

If you compare the book and movie directly there are very few differences, but they give very different perspectives if you really look at the over all picture. The movie is probable easier for us to relate too, but if you really take the time analyze the book we can still find value in the story. They each share a version of the story that is relevant even in our modern society and could help us see more clearly, changes we need to make personally and in our view of the world we live in.

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