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Scrooge as a redeemed socialist. A Christmas Carol as a capitalist tale.

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SCROOGE It is not generally appreciated that Dickens was a bought and paid for flack for Victorian Capitalism. Admittedly, this is not obvious; his reputation, after all, is that of a critic who highlights the absurdities and cruelties of the age. All is not as it seems, though. As Orwell points out in his essay on Dickens there are two reactions, two advocacies that can be made in response to the evils of the world. One is to urge humanity to have better hearts; the other is to urge humanity to change the system by which it orders its affairs. Dickens, Orwell writes, chose the first course. There is much to be said for such urgings. Systems constructed by men with evil hearts rot from the centre out; their evil taints all that they touch. Good will is not enough, though; it cannot redeem a bad system. The flaw in Dickens was that he appealed to good will in men, but no good will could have redeemed the evils of Victorian Capitalism. ...read more.


It would, however, enable these fine gentry to feel good about themselves. Scrooge, on the other hand, supports the work houses. Now there is no doubt that the work houses were horrors. We must consider, however, the times. In those days, in a time less overflowing with wealth than our own, the work houses were all there were in the way of a social safety net. The good, fine gentry made sure that there were no more - taxes to ameliorate the lot of the poor were money wasted which might be better spent on gourmet meals and the mounting of mistresses. It was a time when consumption was the mark of a gentleman. Scrooge was no gentleman. We may be sure of that. He kept no mistress. He lived modestly. He worked hard. And he helped the poor, helped them as a class, and helped them in a way that was meaningful rather than by worthless "feel good" gestures. ...read more.


Even in the midst of the unrelenting propaganda, though, we notice a curious thing. Scrooge asks no more of his employee than he asks of himself. He is there when Crotchet comes to work; he is there when Crotchet leaves. He works as hard as Crotchet, nay harder. And then there is the matter of Tiny Tim, that icon of mawkish sentimentality. How did he become deformed and crippled? We are not told - he had one of those mystery ailments so beloved by authors dealing in sentiment. It was not spoken of. Indeed, in Victorian times there were many horrors of child abuse that were "not spoken of." Perhaps Crotchet was not quite the loving father that he was portrayed as being. In the end Ebeneezer Scrooge is redeemed. He becomes an indulgent and self-indulgent wastrel like his nephew, grinding out money from the poor on one hand and spending it extravagantly on himself and his immediate circle with the other. He is no longer Socialist Man. He is a good Victorian Capitalist, keeping Christmas with the best of them, and no longer a threat to the world as it should be. Researched by hassan 7w ...read more.

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