Selfishness Prevails

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"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!"

I'm not buying the idea that Scrooge was completely transformed into a "good person," however that's defined.  His motivations for honoring Christmas in his heart all year were to save himself, not to benefit mankind.  In order to avoid his fate, which would be worse than Marley's, he decides to do charitable acts and start being nice to people.  That's just a part of social responsibility in the first place, not something that will save his soul for however much longer he'd be alive.  How old is Scrooge anyways?  I picture him as being in his seventies, so are a couple years of being nice going to make up for the fifty in which he was a rude and selfish jerk?

Of course, I have no idea what is enough to save a person's soul.  However, doing something purely to save oneself doesn't seem to be enough.

PS: I didn't mean for this blog to be so negative when I started writing it.  Wow.

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ETA: Gladys blogged about class levels in her blog on staves 1-3 and I felt like it fit with what I was saying here. It made me realize that maybe Dickens was saying it doesn't matter if the rich help the poor for selfish reasons as long as society benefits.

6 Comments

Josie Rush said:

I definitely see what you mean, and I thought the same thing. If I were a millionaire (or, you know, had money), and a ghost told me I either had to share my wealth or spend an eternity of torture dragging chains around, I'd feel pretty charitable, too. But, I think there were some instances when Scrooge is supposed to be perceived as genuine. He asks after Tiny Tim and Ignorance and Want, for example, If he had been just hell-bent on his own welfare, his reaction to the suffering of those children would've been basically, "Whatever, what's going on with me right now?" But overall, I agree with you. One thing some of the movies show more completely than the book is Scrooge's actual concern for his fellow-man and repentence for being such a jerk.

As he witnesses the images of the dance at Fezziwig's, Scrooge does say that he should like to say something to his clerk... exactly what that is, we don't know, but the context suggests Scrooge may wish to say something nice. We saw at least that bit of change in his persona before the harrowing lesson of the third spirit.

The medieval church had a long tradition of the "dance of death," a painting or a play that emphasized the temporary nature of all earthly pleasures, and the universality of the grave (a lesson echoed in "The Masque of the Red Death").

Gladys Mares said:

I don't know why I'm being such a softy on Scrooge. I totally get what your saying and I actually blogged about how today, people wouldn't buy his intentions so easily. However, I think the book gave messages about forgiveness. I think that spirits indicated an after life and redeeming yourself on earth before its too late. Im Catholic and I believe in people earning a second chance. I thought this book was kinda religious. Maybe its Christmas and I'm in a forgiving mood lol. Who knows...

Brooke Kuehn said:

Karyssa i mentioned you in my blog. Although i hate to say Scrooge is only giving charity to help himself, i see what you are saying. I blogged about how i was surprised by the Grim Reaper like appearance of the Ghost of xmas future. Maybe the ghost looked this way in order to scare Scrooge into changing his lifestyle. However, im sticking with Glady on this one. I can't help but also be a softy on this classic character lol

Recent portrayals of the work tend to capitalize on the importance of changing oneself just to be a better person. I think it's tainted the way we would have otherwise analyzed this story. However, by rethinking the benevolent narrator thanks to Josie, I can understand what everyone is saying.

Kayla Lesko said:

I'm such a slacker when it comes to these things...

I don't know, I never really Scrooge being that old.

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Kayla Lesko on Selfishness Prevails: I'm such a slacker when it com
Karyssa Blair on Selfishness Prevails: Recent portrayals of the work
Brooke Kuehn on Selfishness Prevails: Karyssa i mentioned you in my
Gladys Mares on Selfishness Prevails: I don't know why I'm being suc
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Josie Rush on Selfishness Prevails: I definitely see what you mean
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