Dickens' Christmas and time
Posted by Stolzi on December 22, 1997 at 22:16:20:
In response to time , written by AnneM on December 22, 1997 at 21:15:24
] I've had two trains of thought. Either he was in a big hurry to meet his deadline, or he wanted to give this story a dreamlike quality. The blurring of time, the confusion of reality, does this.
I think this is a good explanation (either one)!
But why, oh why, does Jacob Marley tell Scrooge to expect the first Spirit "tomorrow night" when it comes this very night (of all the good nights in the year, Christmas Eve), -- unless you think of "tomorrow night" as being the part of the night after 12 midnight, when it becomes "the morrow," but I don't think this is, or has ever been, standard usage.
There is also a matter of alternate-universe time dimensions. Scrooge asks Christmas Future if the "shadows" of the future can be altered, but the things Christmas Present shows him are also altered: Bob Cratchit will dine upon turkey, not goose; the party at Fred's house that day will have Uncle Scrooge as enthusiastic participant, rather than as absent "goat." (One of my favorite passages, the plump sister shrieking, "It's your Uncle Scroo-o-o-ge!")
] The spirit of Christmas past almost sounds like a fairy.
Tonight we saw the Tennessee Repertory Theatre's presentation, and Christmas Past was played by four small girls at once (one spirit being four at once is rather a Dickens concept in itself!). They were charmingly costumed in white Kate Greenaway dresses and bonnets, with big bows that seemed like wings in back, the whole in an iridescent material which gave off an unearthly shimmer in the lights to convince you they were more than human beings.
As a child I thought the small Christmas Past figure Dickens describes, with its luminous head and "extinguisher," extremely strange and perplexing.
As I read Dickens' stories and study his life, I do wonder if the man didn't have a condition verging on bipolar illness -- at least he reminds me strongly of the manic side of that condition.
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