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An audience members gleeful first-hand account of Charles Dickenss public reading of A Christmas Carol unwittingly exposes an often overlooked contradiction in the storys climax Finally there is Scrooge no longer a miser but a human being screaming at the conversational boy in Sunday clothes to buy him the prize turkey that never could have stood upon his legs that bird 96 Perhaps he is no longer a miser but by this description Scrooge still plays the role of a capitalist oppressor commanding underlings to fetch him luxuries While Dickens undoubtedly lauds Scrooges epiphany and ensuing change A Christmas Carol also hints at the authors resentment for an industrial societys corrupted notion of the Christmas spirit Through instances of goodwill which Christmas provokes Dickens suggests that Christmas is only an interruptive exception from the otherwise capitalistic calendar Even when Scrooge becomes altruistic as in the above scene his philanthropy still operates under the guise of capitalism measured in economic terms and aimed ultimately at providing himself with pleasure Dickens subtly turns his critique of ephemeral and selfish holiday time to the reader The straightforward Aristotelian structure of the narrative and the constant foreshadowing and repetition reduce any potential anxiety about the storys outcome The main cause for anxiety over the conclusion of any sentimental tale is to identify with the protagonist in some way Although Scrooge is a caricature with whom few would commiserate or admit to so doing Dickenss Three Spirits lure us into sympathy with the miser while simultaneously engendering empathy in him But the production of Scrooges humanity is just that a manufactured nearly focus-group mode of voyeurism that attacks Scrooge at his most vulnerable and solipsisticeither forcing upon him visions of his harm to others or more saliently of his own past and future selves at their lowest For Dickens the altruism Christmas breeds is a false exercise in guilt-reduction and the pat ending of A Christmas Carol reinforces this the
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