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YMMV / A Christmas Carol

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Jacob Marley's character, particularly pre-death, is open to a lot of interpretation, as all that's told is Scrooge was as bad as he was at the time of Marley's death. Some adaptations make him more heroic, while others more villainous, and others present them as relatively equal.
    • The Ghosts, their personalities, and what they hope to accomplish can vary between adaptations, with some more benevolent than others.
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    • Was Scrooge's refusal to remove Marley's name from the signage really based on stinginess, or did he keep it for more sentimental reasons and only used the expense as an excuse?
  • Awesome Moments: Fred pwning his uncle with simple logic.
    Scrooge: What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You're poor enough.
    Fred: Come, then. What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You're rich enough.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The ghostly hearse on the stairs is a fairly random event, isn't connected with other characters like the other ghosts, and is never mentioned after it appears.
    • Young Scrooge's book-reading causes the characters to manifest in his imagination, and they're described as if they're real.
  • Broken Base: There's a divide between fans who want A Christmas Carol adaptations to closely follow the book and are angered when they deviate, fans who think following the book too closely leaves little room for creativity and are interested in the uniqueness adaptations bring, and fans who are in-between and like adaptations being close but not rigidly compliant.
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  • "Common Knowledge": The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is often portrayed as a skeleton in a cloak. While we never see its actual face, the spirit is described in the book as having "a pale, gaunt hand", suggesting that its hand did have skin on it, it was just pale and thin.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Some readers gloss over Scrooge's actions pre-reformation, claiming he's just trying to do his job or is right to hoard his money. This ignores the fact that it's said he overcharges his tenants for more than their measly houses are worth, doesn't even spend his money on himself, and pays Bob Cratchit a pittance when he has six children to provide for. And his response to claims that the poor will die if Scrooge doesn't contribute to get them off the streets and away from the poorhouses is that they should hurry up and do it to "decrease the surplus population". That's not to mention how cold and dismissive he is to his nephew, who tries as hard as he can to be friendly to him.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Dick Wilkins, one of Scrooge's fellow apprentices in the past, occasionally gets focus because both men were fond of one another.
    • Mr. Topper, a guest at Fred's party, is focused on in many adaptations for his womanizing ways, handsomeness, and interest in one female guest specifically.
  • Fair for Its Day: Back at the time Dickens wrote this, it was considered highly progressive as it showed the audience that they are obligated to help disabled people to survive and that the idea that people with disabilities should be killed or allowed to die was heartless. However, some disability rights activists today take issue with the portrayal of Tiny Tim, as he exists solely to be pious, good, and elicit pity from Scrooge and the audience, despite the fact that poverty was the primary reason for his helplessness and disability.
  • Fanfic Fuel: Jacob Marley being dead to begin with, and conspicuously absent from what Scrooge sees of his own past in the book, leaves a lot of room for writers to explore his character, his past, and how he met Scrooge.
  • Fan Wank: Much ink has been shed over the decades about some of the details Dickens left out. What exactly Scrooge does for a living (Money-lender? Landlord?) is one. What exactly is wrong with Tiny Tim (Polio? Rickets? Unspecified kidney disease?) is another.
  • Genius Bonus: Christmas Present's appearance is heavily modeled after the traditional folklore appearance of Father Christmas.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The scenes of people mocking and celebrating Scrooge's death in his Bad Future. Similar sentiments were expressed, especially in Scotland and North England, when Margaret Thatcher died.
    • Scrooge's infamous suggestion that the poor and homeless be put in prisons or workhouses - which when it's repeated to him, he suffers a Heel Realization. In 2017 as the homeless crisis reached its peak, some British and Irish figures suggested housing the homeless in prisons—and others were quick to point out the comparisons.
    • The real-life inspiration for Tiny Tim, Dickens' nephew Henry Burnett Jr., died at age 10.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Since Ebenezer's nephew is an important character, yes, there is more than one instance where the hero is referred to or addressed as "Uncle Scrooge."
  • Ho Yay:
    • Scrooge and Jacob Marley were business partners for many years, Scrooge lives in what used to be Marley's house, Marley visits him to save his soul even though he can no longer do anything for himself, and Scrooge mentions he was always a good friend to him and sincerely thanks him once the visits are over. Adaptations and fan works have taken this and ran with it.
    • Scrooge and Dick Wilkins were very fond of one another in the past, with Scrooge remarking he was like a shadow to him.
  • Iron Woobie: Bob Cratchit works a job he hates for very little money, all so he can provide for his family. He still remains good-hearted and is a loving husband and father despite everything.
  • It Was His Sled: It's supposed to be a twist that the vision by the Ghost of Christmas Future takes place after Scrooge's death, but thanks to how ubiquitous the tale is, virtually nobody is surprised to learn this. Even if one hears the story completely fresh, it's not hard to figure it out ahead of time since all the other visions took place in Scrooge's life, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is described in terms meant to invoke the image of the Grim Reaper.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Scrooge. The Jerkass part is at the forefront for the first act of the story. Then Christmas Past happens and you see just how tragic his backstory is.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Bah, humbug" has become shorthand for someone being like Scrooge and/or hating the holidays.
    • "Merry Christmas." While this story didn't invent the phrase - that goes back to the 16th century - it did help popularize it. Beforehand, "Happy Christmas" tended to be used more often, since "merry" implied drunkenness.
    • "Scrooge" has become a euphemism for a stingy, cold-hearted person, as well as a miser.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The three spirits make Scrooge himself go through his past to realize how far his actions have gone, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come shows him the consequences of crossing this line, by continuing to take advantage of the destitute and stealing with the tolerance of the law. What Scrooge sees, especially the aftermath of Tiny Tim's death, truly horrifies him.
  • Newer Than They Think: As stated in the description, more than a few Christmas traditions were inspired by or received a wider audience because of this story.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • Scrooge's plea to Marley's ghost about having all three spirits at once and getting it over with may seem like a bit of modern snark, but this is straight from Dickens.
    • The notion of others thinking Scrooge has gone crazy on Christmas Day onward may seem like a modern subversion, but the book has Bob Cratchit's first reaction to Scrooge giving him a raise be the thought that he should knock his boss out and call the loony bin.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The moral of charity and giving is obvious, and Dickens wrote it to call attention to the plight of the poor.
  • Stoic Woobie: Fred's mother died in childbirth and his only living relative keeps rebuffing his advances ("I want nothing from you, I ask nothing of you; why can we not be friends?"), but he remains a Perpetual Smiler nonetheless.
  • Values Resonance: Part of the reason why this story continues to be adapted to this very day. The message of the true meaning of Christmas being about how one spends their life, not their money, might be more relevant in these recessionary times more than ever.
  • The Woobie: Tiny Tim isn't even ten years old, and already crippled and doomed to die within one year due to his illness. Scrooge's Heel Realization is even started with seeing how Tim is The Pollyanna despite his circumstances.


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