Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol is a short story written by Charles Dickens. First published on December 17, 1843, the book was an instant success. Thousands of copies were sold within weeks. Originally written as a potboiler to enable Dickens to pay off a debt, this story has become one of the most popular and enduring Christmas stories of all time.
The story is a Victorian morality tale of an old and bitter miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who undergoes a profound experience of redemption. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley. Marley, who in life was as miserly as Scrooge, is condemned to carry heavy chains throughout eternity because of his ruthlessness. Marley is visiting to lay out his plan to save Scrooge from the same fate. Scrooge is skeptical of what he has seen and heard, but during the course of the night, he is visited by spirits of "Christmas Past", "Christmas Present" and "Christmas Yet to Come". The ghosts show Scrooge scenes from his life (past, present and future) that open his eyes and make him realize that he desperately needs love and forgiveness from his fellow men. In the end, Scrooge changes his life and reverts to the generous, kind-hearted soul he was in his youth.
Tiny Tim is the crippled youngest child of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge's poor and ill-treated clerk. Scrooge's spirit-provided visions show him the meagre Christmas celebrations of the Cratchit family, the sweet nature of Tiny Tim, and a possible early death for the child; this prospect is the immediate catalyst for his change of heart.
The story deals extensively with two of Dickens' recurrent themes, social injustice and poverty, the relationship between the two, and their causes and effects. It was written to be abrupt and forceful with its message, with a working title of "The Sledgehammer." The first edition of A Christmas Carol was illustrated by John Leech a politically radical artist who in the cartoon Substance and Shadow printed earlier in 1843, had explicitly criticised artists who failed to address social issues.
A Christmas Carol has been adapted to movies and TV countless times. According to the Internet Movie Database, various movie adaptations of the story were filmed as early as 1910. On December 23, 1938, CBS broadcast a radio adaption by Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre company, in the series The Campbell Playhouse. CBS broadcast a similar adaption in 1939, as well as a reading before a radio audience. The story has also been used by successive generations of movie-makers and television directors to make their own points. In particular, many sitcoms have had episodes adapting or spoofing the story for their Christmas specials. Notable examples include The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Family Ties.
According to critics, the most popular and most enduring motion picture adaptation of the story was made in England in 1951. Originally titled Scrooge (and renamed to A Christmas Carol for its American theatrical release), it starred Alastair Sim as Scrooge, and was directed by Brian Desmond-Hurst .
Other noteworthy adaptations of the story include:
- A Christmas Carol (1935) starring Sir Seymour Hicks as Scrooge.
- A Christmas Carol (1938) starring Reginald Owen as Scrooge and Gene and Kathleen Lockhart as the Cratchits.
- Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962): featuring the UPA animated characters.
- Scrooge (1970): starring Albert Finney and Alec Guinness in a musical version of the story (there is also a stage version).
- Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983): featuring the various Disney animated characters.
- A Christmas Carol 1984 TV movie of the story starring George C. Scott as Scrooge
- X-mas Marks The Spot (1987) was an episode of the animated series, "The Real Ghostbusters" that spoofed the Dickens classic, depicting the heroes accidentally capturing the three spirits and ruining Christmas for the future.
- Scrooged (1988): a remake in a contemporary setting with Bill Murray being a misanthropic TV producer who is haunted by the ghosts of Christmas. Directed by Richard Donner.
- Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988): a parody where philanthropist Ebenezer Blackadder becomes a bad guy after a visit by the Spirit of Christmas.
- The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992): featuring the various Muppet characters, with Michael Caine as Scrooge.
- A Christmas Carol (1999), starring Patrick Stewart
- A Diva's Christmas Carol (2000), a humorous adaptation starring Vanessa Williams as a bitchy diva who is transformed into a kind-hearted soul.
- Steve Nallon's Christmas Carol (2003) theatrical adaptation starring the noted impressionist, as a number of famous people.
- An Easter Carol (2004): featuring the various computer animated Veggie Tales characters in a unique adaption that changed the holiday to Easter.
- (2004), starring Kelsey Grammer
- Karoll's Christmas (2004), in which modern versions of the three spirits visit the wrong man's house on Christmas Eve.
- Created by Carl Barks, Scrooge McDuck was the main character of Disney's famous 1980s cartoon show Ducktales. He was named as a tribute to A Christmas Carol. Barks's story Christmas on Bear Mountain (1947) was the first appearance of Scrooge McDuck.
- A Christmas Carol - in easy to read HTML format.
- A Christmas Carol - Searchable, HTML-indexed version.
- A Christmas Carol - In Prose - A Ghost Story of Christmas (with illustrations) - Special Collections, University of Glasgow
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