Book vs Movie: A Christmas Carol

What better way to spend the holiday season than to sit down next to the fire with a cup of hot chocolate in hand, reading a holiday-spirited book? If that is the case, bear Charles Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol in mind. If you’re more on the relaxing side, curl up on the couch and watch the movie. Both are great choices, but here’s some key differences between book vs movie.

Many Americans are familiar with the story of miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge, whose heart is cold and inhospitable. But after encountering three spirits of Christmas, Past, Present, and Future, Scrooge becomes a changed man, brimming with joy for Christmas season.

The movie, which was released in 2009, is more lighthearted than the actual book, as often happens. When Charles Dickens wrote the book there weren’t many jobs, and lots of people were homeless and dying of hunger. However, when the movie was made, the economy was much better and people were more joyous. Scrooge’s father is also considerably more generous in the movie, leaving Scrooge meager amounts of money, while in the book, the poor lad is sent straight to a new Master named Fezziwig. In the movie Scrooge seems much younger than he actually is; in the book, he is around 70, weaker and frail.

Each in turn, the three Spirits show Scrooge a memory or a future, and these images haunt Scrooge, who begins to feel guilty. He sees his nephew Fred making fun of him; he sees his clerk, Bob Cratchit’s son, Tiny Tim, die, the family mourning; and in the end, he sees himself on a deathbed, while others cherish the fact that he is gone….

Of course, movies tend to dramatize these events, making them more exciting. The scene where Scrooge is going to fall into his grave is very intense, and so is the music. But when Scrooge wakes up, his reaction in the book and the movie are very similar; he is giddy to be alive, and honors Christmas with a joyful heart.

Either way, both are full of action, love, and are sure to warm you up for this holiday season!

-Katharine L.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and its film adaptations are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

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