Mankind was My Business

As I mentioned to UB yesterday, I should have been a history teacher, or a pure literature teacher, because I loved to insert history into my English classes.

December was Dickens just so I could watch A Christmas Carol. My 7th graders never failed to be horrified by 1830’s London. Even coming from some of the poorest working class homes, they were soft by comparison to the working poor of those days. Society’s expectations of the classes and it’s complete indifference to poverty shocked them though I don’t know that any of them drew comparisons between then and now though I tried to draw them.

I read them the opening of the story because it’s awesome and I don’t say that about Dickens lightly. Normally, I find his prose thick and cumbersome to wade through but here he almost reminds me of Twain,

“Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail. Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail. “

One of my favorite scenes is Jacob Marley confronting Scrooge.

George C. Scott will always be Scrooge to me.

It’s a great speech Jacob gives though I think the last exchange between Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present has more bite,

Edward Woodward rocks the house in this part.

I especially loved,

Scrooge: “I am taxed for them. Isn’t that enough?”

Ghost: “Is it?”

So apt for our world today which is sad because it was equally appropriate nearly 180 years ago too. Humans are nothing if not near-sighted in perspective and ability to empathize.

Merry Christmas. And (insert your preference) bless us, every one.

7 responses to “Mankind was My Business

  1. Pop over to my site. I visited the Morgan Library yesterday to view the actual handwritten manuscript of “A Christmas Carol.” There’s a link to high resolution pics of the manuscript. The handwriting is a mess. Fun fact: The fact that Tiny Tim lived is not mentioned in the original manuscript. That was added at the printers!

  2. I watched that last night, for the first time in many years. What an amazing performance. It really does speak to our time.

    It makes me want to find the Beauty and the Beast that he did with Trish Van Devere when I was a teenager. I’d never seen such a heartbreaking movie.

    • I don’t think I’ve ever see that Beauty and the Beast in it’s entirety. I could watch Scott in just about anything though. He has a way of inhabiting roles that is often lacking these days.

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