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To What Extent does Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol' fit into the Genre of the Supernatural Story, and how does Dickens use it as a vehicle for his social views?

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Introduction

To What Extent does Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol' fit into the Genre of the Supernatural Story, and how does Dickens use it as a vehicle for his social views? The supernatural story has a long history as a popular literary work. Many people enjoy them even today. The original supernatural stories would have been told by a storyteller in villages when many people had little or no understanding of the ways of the world. Many people would have been illiterate so the stories would be passed down through the generations. When Shakespeare was writing in the 16th and 17th century people believed that the witches in Macbeth were real so people feared them. By the time Dickens was writing in the 19th century people didn't believe that witches and other beings created to explain the unexplainable existed. The supernatural story had changed a lot by Victorian times to be more psychological than literally and tended to play on the fears of the reader. This was because science had explained many phenomenans but, even today; debates still take place over the existence of spirits and other supernatural beings, even today science cannot fully explain the truth about ghosts. P.J. Stead wrote in his book 'Supernatural': "The oldest and best supernatural stories are to be found in the great mirrors of popular imagination - in the Arabian Nights, in the fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm and in the old ballads." That quote can also be found in Cassell's Encyclopaedia of Literature edited by S.H. Steinberg. It links with 'A Christmas Carol' because when the spirit of the past takes Scrooge to his school days he is reading the Arabian Nights. The same man, P.J. Stead, also wrote of supernatural stories that they include: "The return of the dead to intervene in mortal affairs, the presence of spirits of the earth and air. The casting and raising of spells." ...read more.

Middle

Scrooge is then taken to his first and last love, Belle. Scrooge fell in love with her when they were both poor but Scrooge became greedy and fanatic about money. At this point she let him go: "'It matters little,' she said softly. ' To you, very little. Another idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve.' 'What idol has displaced you?' he rejoined. 'A golden one.' " This tells us that Scrooge has moved his love from Belle to money. Scrooge is then taken back to his bedroom where he awaits the second spirit. Scrooge is greeted by the Spirit of Christmas present who takes him on a journey around London. The spirit is a large, jolly ghost. The room has to be resized to fit him. He wears a simple green robe and has kind clear eyes. This spirit is intimidating. The ghost does not wear shoes but has a holly wreath around his head. He has dark brown hair, which is curly, and is one of 1800, at least. The spirit shows him the streets of London at Christmas this year and also takes him on a flight. The first place of significance that is visited is the home of Scrooge's copy clerk, Bob Cratchitt. His family are preparing Christmas dinner and Bob is out with their crippled son Tiny Tim. The family are poor so cannot afford a big Christmas dinner but they talk about it as though it is a feast fit for kings. From the sight of Tiny Tim Scrooge feels bad about Bob's salary. Bob is paid 15 bob a week which today works out at �0.75. After their dinner they make a toast to Mr. Scrooge. Scrooge asks the spirit about Tiny Tim with which the spirit replies "I see a vacant seat. In the chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved." ...read more.

Conclusion

In 'A Christmas Carol' not only does the protagonist, Scrooge, not believe in the paranormal but he does not believe in anything but being rich. This is why he is visited by the paranormal world. The language that Dickens has used seems to be the language of the period although some language from this particular genre can also be found. Many of the sentences in the book have a feel for the supernatural and of his own views, especially when talking about the poor: "The spirit smiled, and stopped to bless Bob Cratchitt's dwelling with a sprinkling from his torch. Think of that! Bob had but fifteen 'Bob' a-week himself; he pocketed on Saturdays but fifteen copies of his Christian name; and yet the Ghost of Christmas Present blessed his four-roomed house!" That sentence has mainly the language of the period but it also has a little bit of supernatural language. This just goes to show Dickens' views once again. He is writing as though it is shocking for some one to bless a poor persons little four-roomed house. Therefore 'A Christmas Carol' is a perfect supernatural story and acts as a vehicle for Dickens' views, but rather than it being a large vehicle of his views, like a social problem novel, it is a small vehicle which only has room for a small amount of his social views whereas other Dickens novels such as 'Great Expectations', 'Oliver Twist', 'Nicholas Nickleby' and 'Hard Times' fit into the social problem genre better than 'A Christmas Carol' does. Having said that 'A Christmas Carol' still gets the message across about the Victorian people's anti-social and idiotic views about the poor and how they need to be changed. 'A Christmas Carol' also gets the message across to a wider audience which means that more people realise that their views about the poor are wrong and that it really isn't their own fault if they are poor. This is where 'A Christmas Carol' really becomes a vehicle for Dickens' social views because it transports the views to people that wouldn't normally read a social problem novel. ...read more.

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