What Ebenezer Scrooge Can Teach Us About Great Writing

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One of my all-time favorite movies for the holidays is The Muppets Christmas Carol. I believe I’ve seen this movie a few hundred times. I’ve worn out three VHS tapes and at least three DVDs. I play the movie over and over, mainly because, well, duh,  MUPPETS! I drive my husband nuts playing this movie over and over…and over. I’m worse than a three-year-old.

But, Muppets aside, also I can’t get enough of the music. Also, I love the story of A Christmas Carol no matter how many times I see it, no matter how many renditions, and I am certainly not alone. Charles Dickens’ story of a redeemed miser is a staple for holiday celebrations around the world and across the generations.

This story is virtually synonymous with “Christmas,” but why is it such a powerful story? Why has it spoken so deeply to so many? Why is it a story that never grows old? Today, I want to talk about a couple of the elements that speak to me, because they rest at the heart of great writing.

A Little Background

A Christmas Carol is a beautiful story, but I find it’s true beauty when it’s explained in the Christian context that inspired it. My son was watching Bubble Guppies and they tried (dismally) to tell the same story inserting “holiday” so as not to offend anyone, I presume.

Yet, the story fell flat.

The PC had ruined the beauty of this tale and made it more of a lesson about embracing shallow commercialism once a year than a story of love’s power to redeem the irredeemable. Thus, this post will use scriptural and religious references to explain why I believe this story is so moving and timeless.

The Power of Names

Naming characters can be vital. Great writers use the power of parsimony. Each element should serve as many purposes as possible. A name is more than a name. It has the power to be a story within a story.

I recall the moment I was first introduced to what would become my favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount of Many Blessings. One verse stood out:

Here I raise my Ebenezer

Here by Thy great help I’ve come

And I hope, by Thy good pleasure

Safely to arrive at home.

Ebenezer? Raise an Ebenezer? I needed to know more. Ebenezer is actually אבן העזר, Even Ha’Ezer, which literally means stone of help or monument to God’s glory and is referenced in the book of Samuel.

Thus, when Dickens chose a name for his protagonist, he chose the perfect name for the redeemed sinner. What is a better testament to a God of grace, than the hardened heart melted by the power of love? The current climate of political correctness aside, A Christmas Carol is most definitively a Christian story and the theme is reminiscent of Proverbs 25:22:

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat

and if he is thirsty give him water to drink

for you will heap burning coals on his head

and the Lord will reward you.

Very often this verse is misunderstood. “Yeah! BURN ‘EM! THAT’LL TEACH THEM TO MESS WITH ME! COALS! BURN BABY BUUUURN!” Yet, if one looks to the ancient Hebrew, the heaping burning coals is literally the holy fire of LOVE that melts the hardened heart so it can be remade (think of melting a weapon of war to remake it into a tool for healing or farming).

The path to redemption is love, for only love holds the power to redeem those who have committed grave wrongdoings. Only love can repair what’s been broken and “remake” it into something entirely new.

The Christian story is a story of love, of redemption, of second chances and not because one has earned it or deserved it. Scrooge is a dreadful man, yet as the story unfolds, not only does Scrooge’s heart begin to melt as he’s faced with the truth of who he is, but our hearts melt toward Scrooge as we travel through the past, present and future and see what has created such a embittered, cruel person. We empathize and start to have compassion and love the unlovely.

Scrooge has done nothing to earn redemption, but his redemption is precisely why we cheer at the end.

The spectral visits serve to show Scrooge the truth, which again is reminiscent of scripture; and then you will know the truth and it is the truth that will set you free (John 8:32). Scrooge cannot change what he cannot see and it is the three ghosts who come to reveal what he’s failed to see on his own.

Repentance is not the mumbled and counterfeit “Sorry.” Rather, it is finally seeing the truth of who we are and what wrong we’ve done. It’s a decision to make things right and turn away from wrong. By the end of the story, Ebenezer is truly repentant. He’s a changed person determined to share the love and grace that was freely given to him when he didn’t deserve it.

Again, what a wonderful testament to God’s love. What a lovely “Ebenezer.”

Jacob Marley is another symbolic name. Jacob Marley is the name of Scrooge’s old business partner, and it is he who intervenes to try and redeem his old friend before Ebenezer is sentenced to share Marley’s fate. The name “Jacob” actually means “thief and liar.” In the Bible, Jacob stole his brother Esau’s blessing, then manipulated, lied, stole and connived until it came back to bite him multiple times  (Jacob later wrestled with an angel until he could be given a new name, Israel and he’d become the father of a great people). What better name to give someone sentenced to roam as a specter for eternity carrying the weight of his ill deeds than a name that literally means thief and liar?

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The Power of Symbol

When the ghost of Jacob Marley visits Scrooge:

The chain he drew about his waist was clasped about his middle. It was long and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel…

Why cash-boxes? Why deeds? Why purses? In life Jacob was a money-lender. He was ruthless in his dealings and never forgave a debt. Yet, Matthew 6:12 (part of The Lord’s prayer) reads: Forgive us our debts as we have also forgiven our debtors.

Jacob forged his chains in life. He refused to show mercy, compassion, or kindness. He was ruthless and legalistic, thus he has sealed his fate. God has promised to forgive us the same way we forgive others, which is why the scripture pleads for grace, compassion and mercy. Also, forgiveness of debts is the heart of what Christmas is about, for unto us a child is born.

Christians believe God sent His only begotten son (God in the form of Man) to pay a debt we cannot hope to pay. God loves us as His children, and our actions have left us hopelessly out off our depth, incapable of paying our debts. Yet Love cancels the debt. Christ’s last words on the cross, “It is finished” literally mean “Paid in FULL.” Jacob turned away from the grace freely offered, so now he wanders, burden by the debts he cannot pay.

Jacob now finds opportunity to warn Scrooge of the chains he is now forging with his actions (and inaction), chains that are longer and heavier than even his. The only way for Scrooge to free himself is to learn to value himself and his fellow human beings.

Smaller Truths Reveal Larger Truths

Dickens makes it a point to show us that Scrooge is a miser. Scrooge shows no mercy, has no warmth, shares none of his wealth…with anyone, including himself. Scrooge is a very wealthy man, yet he wears old clothes, lights no coals for warmth because coal costs money. His home is threadbare and his food measly and meager.

The full story of redemption is that Scrooge not only sees his fellow man differently—worthy of compassion, love and generosity—but in changing how he views his fellow man, his view of himself changes (and heals) as well. The three spirits not only heal Scrooge’s relationship with his Maker, but with himself and others. Scrooge, for the first time, becomes part of the human experience, no longer content to be “solitary as an oyster.”

Happy Ending

Scrooge deserves the death he’s shown by the Spirit of Christmas Future. He deserves to die alone with those “closest” casting lots for his garments. This is what he has sown with his lifetime of greed, hate and spite.

Yet, he is pardoned.

Scrooge is the resurrected heart, the dead brought to life. When God promises “everlasting life” it isn’t a promise that we get to float around on a cloud in Heaven after we die. Rather, it’s a promise that life begins at the moment we decide to accept mercy and love. Scrooge has been “alive” but not “living.” He was existing. When he is redeemed, given a new chance, he changes. Out of gratitude for the mercy he is given, he reaches out to give what he’s been given. LOVE, MERCY, GENEROSITY.

Restoration

Sure, God could have rained down a miracle that healed Tiny Tim and landed Bob Cratchit a better job with a better boss, but Dickens saw God as a God in the business of finding and changing the lost, miserable and broken. Instead of giving the miracle to Cratchit and his family, God, instead, gives it to Scrooge, the least deserving of a miracle.

Why?

Because God is about working through people. Many of His miracles come from ordinary people performing extraordinary acts of kindness and sacrifice. By changing Scrooge, God could create a man who would become a benefactor. Cratchit has now a kind and generous boss, the community now had a passionate philanthropist, and Tiny Tim lives and the family thrived because one man’s heart could be melted.

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It is no great feat to love the lovely. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much (Matthew 5:46). This story is so powerful namely because it shows that every human has value and is worth and an opportunity for redemption. God is in the business of changing hearts, and Dickens wanted to show that. A Christmas Carol is a masterful exploration of the true nature of Christianity, what it should be, what it was meant to be. Love. Above all.

What is your favorite version of A Christmas Carol? What do you love about this story? What is your favorite part? I love The Muppet’s Christmas Carol (already told y’all that), but THIS is my FAVORITE part!

Also, here is my favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. I cry every time I hear this:

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

I hope you will check out my newest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World onAmazon or even Barnes and Noble.

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  1. #1 by somgbe on December 11, 2013 - 6:16 am

    Reblogged this on somgbe.

  2. #2 by jacksonzombie on December 11, 2013 - 6:26 am

    This is one of my family favorites as well, and we’ve gotten to the point where we recite the lines along with the cast.I appreciate the way you’ve deconstructed Dickens to illustrate the beauty to be found in good story-telling.

  3. #3 by Lara McGill on December 11, 2013 - 7:27 am

    Kristen, I’ve never heard it deconstructed like this. Marvelous.

    i have lots of trouble naming my characters; it’s always my most difficult thing in the beginning, and I’m never sure I get it right.

  4. #4 by Shawn Spjut on December 11, 2013 - 7:37 am

    Kristen, brilliant synopsis of the story. I’ve always loved the Christmas Carol, but had never seen the symbolism contained within it as deeply as you shared.

  5. #5 by SSpjut on December 11, 2013 - 7:38 am

    Reblogged this on SSpjut | Writer's Blog | Stardate and commented:
    Kristen Lamb writes a brilliant synopsis of The Christmas Carol…reminding writers of the power of symbolism and readers of the power of love.

  6. #6 by Kate Sparkes on December 11, 2013 - 7:50 am

    The Muppet Christmas Carol is not only my favourite version of this story, it’s also probably the only case of “I’d rather see the movie than read the book” in my life (though I will re-read the book this Christmas). The music is fantastic, and like you said: Muppets. Michael Caine is the perfect Scrooge, too.

    Thank you for breaking down these elements of the story. Now it will be even more meaningful when we watch it on Christmas Eve.

    • #7 by Kate Sparkes on December 11, 2013 - 7:53 am

      Oh, and don’t get me started on Bubble Guppies. They have an UNDERWATER FIRE DEPARTMENT. I can’t watch it. Drives me bonkers.

  7. #8 by Kate Sparkes on December 11, 2013 - 7:52 am

    Reblogged this on disregard the prologue and commented:
    A fantastic breakdown of A Christmas Carol, showing the deeper meaning of the story in a Christian context.

  8. #9 by Cygnet Brown on December 11, 2013 - 8:24 am

    This was a beautiful post that not only adds depth to my understanding of A Christmas Carol, but it also adds depth to my understanding of your character as well, Kristen. Thank you so much.

  9. #10 by Gry Ranfelt on December 11, 2013 - 8:31 am

    Great analysis! It’s a very powerful post given that we focus a lot on rewarding characters that deserve to be rewarded. But there really is great beauty in the villain turning good. (Zuko from Avatar, for example.)
    My favorite is Scrooge McDuck <3 I watch it every year in Disney's Christmas Show. Such a great tradition.

    • #11 by swiveltam on December 11, 2013 - 9:50 am

      Zuko was my fave character (this harkens back to Kirsten’s previous post about flawed characters). Fun to find another fan! We often quote Avatar the Last Airbender at my house. “To the Library!” one of our most quoted line. LOL

      • #12 by Gry Ranfelt on December 11, 2013 - 11:45 am

        Hahaha, I hope you do go to the library a lot, then, or it’ll be weird xD Mine is “it’ll quench ya’.”
        I really like Azula, especially in this context with Scrooge. A part of me always wanted her to be redeemed but she was irredeemable.

  10. #13 by Alexandra Alger on December 11, 2013 - 8:53 am

    Thanks for a thoughtful, enlightening post. I never made those connections to the Bible (not being well versed in it); fascinating. My favorite Christmas Carol is that one…darn! It’s not George C. Scott, it’s the other guy who plays Scrooge….or maybe it is George C. Scott. I must figure this out!

  11. #14 by swiveltam on December 11, 2013 - 9:47 am

    Thank you for this morning’s weeping (in a good way). The joy of redemption and the reminder to do the right thing. A friend of mine once said, “Sometimes those that need the most love, are the hardest to love.” Its is so hard to love the unlovable and undeserving. I try, but often fail. Thank you for reminding me to get back on the path and try harder.

  12. #15 by MIchele Huey on December 11, 2013 - 10:05 am

    WOW! This is EXCELLENT! Thank you for sharing your heart.

  13. #16 by Roy Hudson on December 11, 2013 - 10:09 am

    It’s hard for me to pick a favorite. My first exposure to the story was Mickey’s Christmas Carol, but a recent repeat proved that there was a LOT missing. Other versions I really like are The Muppet Christmas Carol, Disney’s A Christmas Carol (w/ Jim Carrey), and the TV version with George C. Scott. I love George C. Scott as Scrooge. It seems to me like he played Scrooge in nearly every movie he was in!

  14. #17 by Vivian on December 11, 2013 - 10:10 am

    Love Dickens. Love your deconstruction. And I love the version of A Christmas Carol with the late George C. Scott, the depth he brought to the role touched me.
    Now…if religion would focus on the true spirit of love and not twist their faiths to practice hate, I might enjoy this season more.

    • #18 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 11, 2013 - 10:16 am

      Jesus never had a problem with prostitutes, dirty, cursing fishermen, tax collectors, or thieves. The only folks He had BIG problems with were the Pharisses and Sadduces—the “religious” people. He called them a brood of vipers and “whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones” ;).

      Sadly, we are still filled with a world of people who are pretty on the outside and ugly to the core, because humans don’t change.

  15. #19 by Roy Hudson on December 11, 2013 - 10:17 am

    For another go in the hat, I posted the link in my own blog on my Weebly website:

    http://www.royhudson.com/2/post/2013/12/since-its-near-christmas-heres-another-blog-post-about-writing-bykristen-lamb.html

  16. #20 by DLFowler on December 11, 2013 - 10:28 am

    Beautiful post. Thanks Kristen.

  17. #21 by Lauren Craig on December 11, 2013 - 11:01 am

    This is absolutely wonderful. I have thought about some of this stuff but not all of it.

  18. #22 by Debra McKellan on December 11, 2013 - 11:09 am

    That’s some good teaching. ;) I love seeing Christian allegories explained when I don’t see them.

    I haven’t seen the Muppets’ Christmas Carol in a long time…Or have I ever seen it? Sheesh. I don’t know which one of the oldies is my favorite, but I love the creepy one where Jacob shows Scrooge all the misers who are dead but trying to throw money at a poor woman and her child.

  19. #23 by Dean Lampman on December 11, 2013 - 11:31 am

    Wow, you are up some good — His good — with this post, Kristen. Great work. Thank you!

  20. #24 by DC Lozeau on December 11, 2013 - 11:59 am

    Thank you, Kristen. You touched my soul with this one.

  21. #25 by sonjadhutchinson on December 11, 2013 - 12:13 pm

    Very powerful post! I blogged about this post at my site (http://sonjahutchinson.wordpress.com). Thank you!

  22. #26 by Maryann Miller (@maryannwrites) on December 11, 2013 - 12:24 pm

    This is my favorite Christmas story. I have directed and produced a version of the story I adapted at the local community theatre, and I work with a terrific actor who makes Ebenezer come alive. I love the part of the story where he interacts with the young boy, telling him to go buy a turkey, the biggest turkey in the window, boy, and that is the turkey he takes to Bob Cratchit’s house. Of course, I also love Marley’s, “Ebenezer. Ebenezer Scrooge. I have come for you!”

  23. #27 by Marilyn Hudson Tucker on December 11, 2013 - 12:25 pm

    This is fascinating. I wish I had known all these details when I taught the story long ago.

  24. #28 by Diana Stevan on December 11, 2013 - 12:59 pm

    You’ve now given more depth to what we as a family watch every Christmas Eve. It’s become a tradition to watch the musical version of Christmas Carol with Albert Finney. If you haven’t seen this production, try as you won’t be disappointed. The music is memorable and though it was produced decades ago, it’s very fresh with high production values. Thanks, Kristen for the lesson on names, etc.

  25. #29 by tracikenworth on December 11, 2013 - 1:18 pm

    I LOVE it for all the reasons you mentioned!!

  26. #30 by Debra Desselle on December 11, 2013 - 2:39 pm

    Thanks for a very informative column! I love Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, too.

  27. #31 by tomburkhalter on December 11, 2013 - 2:44 pm

    Why, Kristen, that almost melted MY hard heart! Well done.

  28. #32 by Lora D on December 11, 2013 - 2:55 pm

    Kristen, I was captivated by your post! I, too, had to look up what “Ebenezer” when singing that hymn. It didn’t make sense to me that they even connected to this story until your post today. I won’t forget your beautiful & powerful explanation of how the heart of the gospel (good news) is displayed in this story…as well as so many other “parables.” :-) One thing I love about God is that He always tries to connect with people & give them countless chances to examine their hearts. He never, ever gives up on them–even the “worst” people that we think will never change. God’s love changes everything! He truly loves us, and I hope everyone who read your post will see how He wishes we would respond to Him. Thank you so much!!

    Here is my current favorite song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6RNJ6HDTpU

    “Countless second chances we’ve been given at the cross…” All of the lyrics are incredibly beautiful and I just can’t stop singing this song with a grateful heart.

    Blessings to you!

  29. #33 by Pamela Kopfler on December 11, 2013 - 4:05 pm

    Love this post and A Christnas Carol! The original black and white version is my favorite. Dickens’ original draft of A Christmas Carol is on display at the Morgan Library in New York, and I had the pleasure of seeing the manuscript. I found it comforting to see his scratch outs, additions, and moves in his revision notes on the aged yellow page. Even the greatest don’t get it right on the first try.

  30. #34 by malindalou on December 11, 2013 - 4:10 pm

    “Come Thou Fount” is my favorite too. Good post!

  31. #35 by Pamela Kopfler on December 11, 2013 - 4:25 pm

    The best storyteller ever and he revised to get it right. Here’s a link to the exhibit of Dickens’ Christmas Carol (original manuscript with revision notes) at the Morgan Library in New York. I mentioned this in my earlier post, which hasn’t shown up yet. I love seeing how he revised the story.

    http://www.themorgan.org/collections/works/dickens/ChristmasCarolEnlarge/4

  32. #36 by Kelsie Engen on December 11, 2013 - 4:55 pm

    Kristen,

    You have delivered an interesting interpretation to this classic story, indeed, one I have never considered before. Well done on that.

    However, I do wonder just how much Mr. Dickens actually intended the story to be interpreted as you have done. From my understanding (and although no one but he and God can know for sure), Mr. Dickens was not a believer in Jesus’ power to save. He clearly knew what Christians proclaimed, and was raised with Anglican parents, but he was outspoken against organized religion and seemed to consider all who proclaimed their Christian faith aloud as hypocrites; he even wrote satires pertaining to the Christian faith. By the end of his life, and probably by around the time A Christmas Carol was published (1843), he considered himself a Unitarian, and had a belief in the importance “to do good always” rather than faith in Christ’s offered salvation. (And in considering doing good of such value that, in his will, he encouraged his children to do so, it would not seem too great a leap to me that he considered his salvation to be by works.)

    This said, however, many secular authors use Christian scriptures as inspiration, or even Christian ideals as inspiration, and, while having no faith of their own, may impart a faith-filled message to a believing reader.

    Regardless of how Mr. Dickens intended it, I LOVE how you have broken down this story. There are many truths you present above and beyond the scope of this story, and you support each point so well that I hope Mr. Dickens WAS influenced by the Holy Spirit in writing this story. The next time I read it, your blog post will certainly be coming to mind.

    Thanks for such an inspiring, thought-provoking post.

    Kelsie

    • #37 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 11, 2013 - 5:15 pm

      Many of us are disappointed in organized religion. Jesus was profoundly disappointed in it when he arrived :D. I think the message was God gives up on NONE of His children and that the most powerful force for change is love. There is no specific doctrine in this story other that what power there is when we love the unlovely, because often they need it the most and can create the greatest change once they are transformed.

      If we only love people who earn it or deserve it, many will remain lost, broken and lonely.

  33. #38 by sharonledwith on December 11, 2013 - 5:23 pm

    The original with Alastair Sim is my favorite version, though Scrooged with Bill Murray comes in at a close second. Thanks for sharing your post on The Christmas Carol, Kristen! Merry Christmas!

  34. #39 by AshleeW on December 11, 2013 - 7:20 pm

    Awesome, Kristen. I truly appreciate all the work and details you put into your posts. This one was very special :) Loved it.

  35. #40 by lucindasagemidgorden on December 11, 2013 - 7:58 pm

    I have mixed feelings about your post. Mostly because I’ve left organized Christianity and because I’ve studied other religions. Yes, I love A Christmas Carol and yes, The Muppet Christmas Carol is one of my favorite versions. I also love the message, that an open heart is the best way to live, but I don’t think that Christianity has a monopoly on that. At the center of every single religion is the core thought that we need to love one another. If Dickens had been of another religious tradition, he would have written his story from that point of view. Since he was Christian, that influenced the viewpoint of his story, which is neither good nor bad. It’s just his viewpoint. Redemption, grace, compassion and love are important things for all us to embrace, and other religions teach them too. Dickens was a genius at telling a compelling story. That’s what we need to remember.

    The other day we saw two musical versions of A Christmas Carol and it struck me that our society has become very much like Victorian England when Dickens wrote his story. We have lots of Scrooges in this country right now. I hope some of them are visited by Spirits this Christmas and change their ways.

    I loved what you pointed out about the names of the characters. Names are important ways to show the nature of your characters.

    Thanks for your post. It gave me lots of things to think about.

  36. #41 by Lauren Craig on December 11, 2013 - 8:52 pm

    Reblogged this on Blog of a College Writer.

  37. #42 by Nin Ashmore on December 11, 2013 - 10:13 pm

    Kristen,

    This is beautiful and masterfully presented!
    Loved it!

    A merry Christmas to you and your family.

  38. #43 by susan hoff on December 11, 2013 - 11:27 pm

    Thank you Kristen for this beautiful post. It actually brought tears to my eyes as I saw this story unfold as I never did before. In fact, this was never my favorite Christmas story but now that I see it in a new light, that has changed.

    You are a blessing to a lot of people, myself included. Merry Christmas to your and your family.

  39. #44 by jbiggar2013 on December 12, 2013 - 12:32 am

    Reblogged this on jbiggarblog.

  40. #45 by Gardens by Mary on December 12, 2013 - 6:42 am

    Reblogged this on Garden Perspectives by Mary and commented:
    Kristen Lamb has created this wonderful, insightful piece on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. I have seen many interpretations of this story, and have had the pleasure of meeting his Great Grandson, Gerald Charles Dickens. Gerald presents the story as a one man show each year in the US, a powerful and personal experience. I found Kristen’s perspective just as moving. Merry Christmas

  41. #46 by patriciaruthsusan on December 12, 2013 - 8:06 am

    I enjoyed this blog and I learned a lot from your thorough research. I enjoy vintage versions of A Christmas Carol and actually have two favorites: the old radio version with Lional Barrymore as the voice of Scrooge and the 1951 version with Alastair Sims as Scrooge. My favorite part was Scrooge waking up a changed man on the actual Christmas morning. Merry Christmas!

  42. #47 by Janice Lane Palko on December 12, 2013 - 12:24 pm

    Fantastic post, Kristen! I’ve never seen a better analysis, and you cleared up the meaning of ‘heaping coals” for me. I’ve linked your post to my blog because I wrote a Christmas novel, a contemporary story of a young man who finds love and redemption at Christmas, and I compared it to A Christmas Carol. But you’ve done a much better job of analyzing this classic than I could ever do. Have a Merry Christmas! God bless us, everyone!

    http://thewritinglane.blogspot.com/

  43. #48 by Julia on December 12, 2013 - 2:28 pm

    I love this post! A Christmas Carol is my favorite book – ever. I reread it every Christmas, and often at other times of the year. And… my favorite version is the George C. Scott one.

  44. #49 by Lyle M. Trulin on December 12, 2013 - 3:50 pm

    At last!! You put into words how I have always felt about the story. I read it every holiday season. To me, the best movie is the George C. Scott version of scrooge. Thank you for all the blogs. Am trying to get one of my many starts finished, but run out of desire, gumption, faith in myself, or a combination of all .

  45. #50 by Tahlia Newland on December 13, 2013 - 12:00 am

    I also love the Muppets Christmas Carol for all the reasons you do. And thanks for unpacking it like this. Dickens truly is a master and you’re helping us learn from him. The etymology of the names were fascinating.

  46. #51 by niki on December 13, 2013 - 8:44 am

    Love your blog but this one put you at the top of my list! My favorite version (I think I’ve seen them all!) is the one with Alistair Sim (old and in black and white) but Muppets is second (anything Muppets is great in my book). I appreciate how you are able to ‘dissect’ the story and all your blogs really help me as a writer.

  47. #52 by sarahsolmonson on December 14, 2013 - 8:27 am

    Reblogged this on Sarah Solmonson's Blog and commented:
    Well said!! Any post singing the praise of the Muppet Christmas Carol has my full attention :)

  48. #53 by Jennifer Rose on December 16, 2013 - 2:22 pm

    Great Analysis! I’ve never thought of it this way. The Muppet’s Christmas Carol is my favorite too. My sister and I love the Marly scene. We go around singing….’we’re Marley and Marley. ooo~ooo~ooooo.’ over and over again. :)

  49. #54 by Raani York on December 16, 2013 - 7:47 pm

    The connections you make are amazing. I love this post – not only because it’s humorous in many ways, but it’s also very teaching! (And I can’t get over Marley and Marley) LOL
    Thanks, Kristen!

  50. #55 by Lara McGill on December 16, 2013 - 7:49 pm

    The Muppets Christmas Carol is being recorded to my DVR tonight. I’ll be watching it with everything you’ve written in mind, Kristen.

  51. #56 by cynthiagrstacey on December 17, 2013 - 7:17 am

    Great post Kristen, I think my favorite is Scrooged with Bill Murray. I do like the Jim Carey version as well. I will repost this. I love how you broke it down to teach us about good story telling. Thanks

  52. #57 by cynthiagrstacey on December 17, 2013 - 7:18 am

    Reblogged this on Cynthia Stacey and commented:
    Great Post by Author Kristen Lamb. Really get the in and out of good story telling using a popular Christmas tale.

  53. #58 by robertgredeRobert Grede on December 17, 2013 - 1:21 pm

    Great job, Kristen. I agree that character names play a vital role in defining their personalities. In “The Spur & The Sash,” my antagonist is named Slive. Critics gave the book high praise in general, but called the bad guy’s name “perfect.”

  54. #59 by Erika Beebe on December 17, 2013 - 2:19 pm

    I love this post. Thank you. There are many versions of the Christmas Carol I like. I like Scrooged. I love the Disney Mickey Mouse version so I can talk to my kids about the messages.

  55. #60 by Katie Cross on December 17, 2013 - 6:56 pm

    I also looked up what Ebenezer meant when I listened to Come Thou Fount. It’s one of my favorite songs, and I listen to it when my heart hurts.

    Thanks for pointing out those parallels. Muppetts is truly the best Christmas Carol out there!

  56. #61 by rochelledeans on December 19, 2013 - 4:07 pm

    This is beautifully written. Come Thou Fount is my favorite hymn, too, and I wondered about the connection between its Ebeneezer and the Scrooge we’re all familiar with. I love your interpretation of the story, too.

  57. #62 by Deb Atwood on December 19, 2013 - 7:01 pm

    I so agree that A Christmas Carol cannot be separated from its Christian context. I’ve been reviewing this work with my students in the last couple of weeks, and the humanist/Christian values are deeply woven throughout the work. I think another context to consider Christmas Carol in is social Darwinism–and Dickens’ critical response to those who believe the poor are lazy or unfit.

    Thanks for the name background. That was awesome. I have an old 1950’s era baby name book that I always consult when naming characters. I imagine no one will look into my characters’ names the way I do, but it’s fun to embed secret meanings in my work!

  58. #63 by rosesscott on December 20, 2013 - 12:53 am

    Reblogged this on The Rambling Rose and commented:
    I love this look at an old classic and never connected the dots on the names before! Redemptive stories are my favourite, I wonder if there’s any other kind worth telling. And I also love Come thou Fount. If I can figure out how, I’m reblogging on rosesseilerscott.wordpress.com

  59. #64 by Daron Henson on December 24, 2013 - 5:21 pm

    Thank you tremendously for this post. How nomenclature can make us better writers is very interesting, but, more than that, I enjoyed the spiritual message that you espoused in this post.

    Similarly, the story, “A Christmas Carol” fills my heart with warmth more than any other Christmas story.

    Thank you for this post.

  60. #65 by Michelle Morrison on December 25, 2013 - 7:18 pm

    Reblogged this on mchllmdm and commented:
    This is a cool blog about the symbolism found in A Christmas Carol, one of my favorite Christmas stories.

  61. #66 by bublick123 on December 26, 2013 - 4:21 am

    I am only a nominal Christian in the sense that I have been baptised and christened into Christianity but I am no longer a practising Christian, but what a wonderful post you have put together. From the religious aspect I was lucky enough to be grow up in a strong multi faith community so it was a delight to see the symbolism of the story explored so carefully

    You ask whether Scrooge can teach us anything about great writing, and from a writers point of view I would most definitely say yes. From a technical point of view it is a reminder of how English, as a language can sing, and how it is still applicable to produce a sentence that flows like a pebble and rock strewn stream. The modern writer is constantly pressured into writing “Jack and Jill” style prose so as to sate the appetite of the modern reader who, apparently, can only digest bite size pieces of prose, It is a brave writer that bucks such a trend and reverts to a more “chewy” sentence format, but thank God (or who or whatever) that there are still a few of us around

    One thing which we all tend to forget with the classics though, is how they, just like the modern writer, has to fit into the format of the time in order to be conmervaillly succesful. and how they also produced many a “potboiler” in response to consumer demand. Dickens is a fine example of such a scenario. His work, serialised for greater impact and consumption, is often highly topical, but it is still couched in a writing style which was popular in it’s day. As regards a pot boiler, and I’ve nothing against pot boilers, It is a classic. It has a strong moralistic and faith message, but as a feel good redemptive story it is a real beauty, and one, for it’s time which was almost bound to succeed

    Finally, my favourite film version is the one with Alastair Sim, because of the acting, and my favourite hymn, well, as an ex choir member Cym Rhondda as it is such a belter with a glorious base line, and emotionally I heard the voice of Jesus say come unto me and rest. The tune is so old, the words so universal, regardless of faith, and it is both a pleasure to both read, relate to,, hear and sing

  62. #67 by bublick123 on December 26, 2013 - 4:24 am

    Reblogged this on Let me tell U a story and commented:
    In my view this is a wonderful post from a very fine blogger and writer. I hope you enjoy the post as I have done

  63. #68 by tedhenkle on January 2, 2014 - 8:54 pm

    I’m just catching up on your blogposts Kristen, so I’m sorry for the late reply. My favorite version of A Christmas Carol is the 1951 one with Alistair Sim. The parts that bring me to tears are: When the Ghost of Christmas Past reveals Scrooge’s dying sister asked him to take care of her son–after he stormed out of the room. And: When he asks his daughter-in-law’s forgiveness at their Christmas dinner party, while the tune of “Barbara Allen” was playing. I haven’t seen the Muppet version yet, but I will since I gave my wife, a huge Muppets fan, the DVD for Christmas. You touch on all the aspects that make A Christmas Carol such a great story.

    • #69 by tedhenkle on January 2, 2014 - 8:55 pm

      PS: I hope you and your family had a Merry Christmas!

  64. #70 by Yvette Carol on January 15, 2014 - 1:49 am

    I always enjoy your posts, Kristen, but these days, I’m so pressed for time that I don’t usually respond very much to blogs I read anymore. However, this post kept me glued to my chair, testing each sentence you wrote, and the unusual words, to make sure I understood every single point you were making, before I could move on. It was absolutely fascinating. And therefore, I had to take the time to comment and say, I’ll never watch A Christmas Carol the same way again. Thanks for being awesome!!! :-)

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