Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The story begins by establishing that Jacob Marley, Scrooge's business partner in the firm of Scrooge & Marley, was dead—the narrative begins seven years after his death to the very day, Christmas Eve. Scrooge and his clerk Bob Cratchit are at work in the counting house, with Cratchit stationed in the poorly heated "tank", a victim of his employer's stinginess. Scrooge's nephew, Fred, enters to wish his uncle a "Merry Christmas" and invite him to Christmas dinner the next day. He is dismissed by his relative with "Bah! Humbug!" among other unpleasantness, declaring Christmas time to be a fraud. Two "portly gentlemen", collecting charitable donations for the poor, come in afterwards, but they too are rebuffed by Scrooge, who points out that the poor laws and workhouses are sufficient to care for the poor. When Scrooge is told that many would rather die than go there, he mercilessly responds, "If they would rather die ... they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population." At the end of the workday, Scrooge grudgingly allows Cratchit to take Christmas Day off, but to arrive to work all the earlier on the day after. Scrooge leaves the counting-house, eats dinner at his usual tavern, and returns to his home, an isolated townhouse formerly owned by his late business partner, Jacob Marley..............

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