Our story begins when Scrooge buries his partner Marley. We learn he was sole executor. They were like brothers. Much like Achilles with Patroclus, Scrooge sees himself die with his friend. But he is unaffected, however much the fact of death is impressed upon him. Then we learn of Scrooge that he is as indifferent to winter’s cold as to human warmth. Perhaps his most ignored virtue is his great endurance; it is the key to his self-control.
Scrooge’s nephew alone debates with him; Scrooge speaks of reasons to him who walks so fast in the frost that he warms up aglow. To him Scrooge suggests the poor have no right to happiness; he wonders, in answer, why then is the rich Scrooge unhappy… He alone argues that the good is not merely the useful. He insists Christmas must be kept. The laws will not be thwarted.
Scrooge reasons thus: Those whom mankind calls good or noble are really vampires! They are wastrels! They ignore how little good there is in this world; their happiness diminishes the good things, because it encourages them to share. But economics cannot be fooled by good wishes. Eventually, there is hell to pay. If the rich turn to charity, they become poor.
The nephew hears Scrooge connects his generosity, poverty, love & marriage, & promise as a politician. No straight line in that thought, but quite the portrait! Scrooge sees men with the clarity reserved to villains. The conspiracy arrayed against Scrooge is awesome indeed. His last recourse is politeness: But that belongs to the city. When he asks to be let to keep Christmas his way – English toleration, reminding us of the Civil War – the nephew retorts: But you do not keep it! Toleration is for Christians, but not atheists, so to speak.
The laws first come to Scrooge in the appealing, beautified image of his healthy, energetic, handsome nephew. He first presses the claims of family. Then he reminds Scrooge that he is not allowed to get angry: England is democratic, fundamentally. Christmas reminds the rich that they owe generosity to the poor. The rich are not allowed to get angry – but the poor would be allowed. Scrooge would do well to consider this.
Nobody before had dared to approach Scrooge. Now that the nephew makes his attack on that bastion of selfish rationalism: The good of each… to each his own… – Scrooge’s clerk spontaneously applauds his speech. & the nephew is followed by men asking for charity on behalf of the poor. The world will not let him alone. He concludes his argument saying to himself he must retire to the insane asylum, the sole reasonable man in an insane world…
The latest movie made after Dickens’s most famous Christmas story