A Christmas Carol: 9 Thought-Provoking Quotes From The Classic Story

A Christmas Carol is unarguably Charles Dickens' most famous work, and it continues to be read, performed, rewatched, and enjoyed on repeat year after year. The holiday ghost story has become such a contribution to Christmas culture and the world of literature that it continues to resonate even centuries after its release, yet many still wonder why.

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Dickens was one of the greatest literary minds the world has ever known, but his gift truly shines in the tale of Scrooge's redemption. And nowhere is that factor more evident than in the words and dialogue of the text itself. No matter what version they might come from, the message and meaning of the story continue to shine even in today's media.

“No Eye At All Is Better Than An Evil One, Dark Master.”

The context for this line comes from a description of Ebenezer Scrooge and how even the blind man's dog avoided crossing paths with him, but there might be a little more to it than just clever witticism. It might be Dickens' take on "if your eye causes you to sin" but it also might be a warning to the cynics reading or experiencing the story.

Scrooge is a character that has spent most of his existence with, as Marley puts it, "his eyes turned down." So it begs the question of whether it's better to walk willingly with cold-hearted thoughts or to cast that perspective into spiritual darkness.

“There’s More Gravy Than Of Grave About You.”

It might be a pun, it might be just a bad joke to some, but it's a quote that isn't without its purpose. It's the first time the reader/audience is exposed to a chink in Scrooge's cold and unfeeling armor. By having him crack a nervous joke, his humanity begins to seep through.

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Scrooge isn't trying to be funny here. If anything, he's masking his outright fear of Marley's Ghost by trying to rationalize the situation. Try as he might, however, his wit and cynical nature aren't enough to deny the reality of the haunting he will endure.

“Mankind Was My Business…”

While a more accurate statement should be "Mankind should have been my business," Jacob Marley doesn't shy away from the central message. For the brief time Scrooge and the audience encounter Marley, the iconic spirit is certainly loaded with more than a few hard-hitting nuggets of truth during one of the Dickens story's creepiest scenes.

Mankind, charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, all these abstracts are elements that Scrooge has not only ignored but outright thrown away in pursuit of gain. Marley gained the world but lost his soul and is now suffering the consequences, thus carrying the weight of that shame in the form of his heavy chains.

“The Spirit Within Him Should Walk Abroad Among His Fellow Men.”

Jumping off the previous statement, Marley reiterates a point made earlier by Scrooge's nephew, Fred. His selfish acts and nature made him view his fellow men as a race of other creatures beneath his status. Now he must spend eternity watching the needs and wants of the world unfold but can do nothing to help.

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True evil is when the good do nothing, as the saying goes. With his wealth and influence, Marley was in a position to aid and ease the pains of the less fortunate. Like Scrooge, his disdain for others was what lead him to his fate. His warning serves as a reminder to both Scrooge and the viewer that everyone relies on the kindness of others, especially at Christmas.

“If You Deny Him, Slander Those Who Tell Others About Him, Say He Exists But Do Nothing About It, Then Doom Will Engulf You All.”

While this line doesn't come from Dickens' original translation, its addition to Christmas Present's warning against Ignorance and Want makes the scene more poignant and memorable than ever. Of the two, Ignorance is described as the most dangerous, and for very good reason.

"For on his brow, I see that written which is doom." Where Want can be satisfied with generosity, Ignorance is an infection that can turn the tide of humanity, as illustrated in this dramatic inclusion in Patrick Stewart's Christmas Carol. It's certainly something that applies to the modern-day.

“There Is Nothing In The World So Irresistibly Contagious As Laughter And Good-Humour.”

Putting narratives aside, there are few utterances from the author as true as this observation. Even while enjoying the classic tale, it can be easy to forget that the story does have a jolly and joyous side behind all the ghosts and guilt trips. Leave it to the Ghost of Christmas Present to show Scrooge the life he's missing out on, particularly at Fred's Christmas Dinner.

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Scrooge's troubles can be summed up as a mix-up of priorities. There's no point in accumulating gain if he has no one to enjoy it with. This quote and the party scene that follows are a reminder of what Scrooge could have if he'd only taken the time to open his shut-up heart to the joys of the season.

“For It Is Good To Be Children Sometimes, And Never Better Than At Christmas…”

No group of individuals is more excited or in love with grand and glorious Christmas than kids, and even Dickens knew that all those centuries ago. It's through a child's eyes that the magnitude and emotional weight of this magical time of year. Even with what little the Cratchit children have, they are perhaps the happiest group of Characters Scrooge meets on his journey.

Granted, Christmas wasn't an enjoyable time for Scrooge as a child. Being forced to stay at boarding school will do that, after all. But the example presented in the text is a great reminder for both Scrooge and the reader that one is never too old to give themselves over to the childish delight of the holiday.

“God Bless Us Everyone”

It's not the deepest, it's not the most complex, but it's the line that everyone takes away from the story, no matter what version they're presented with. Of all the lines to end a novel on, Dickens truly knocked it out of the park with these four little words.

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It's a blessing and a parting phrase that anyone who's ever experienced any form of the story should recognize. Regardless of whether they mean it sincerely or are just playfully mimicking a moment from their favorite rendition, everyone knows this iconic Christmas quote practically through cultural osmosis.

"I Have Always Thought Of Christmas... As A Good Time... When Men And Women Seem By One Consent To Open Their Shut-Up Hearts Freely..."

If more politicians or members of parliament thought the way Fred does, the world might be a more festive and friendly place. Right from Stave One, Scrooge's nephew already lays out the central moral of the narrative. Christmas is a time where the world "opens its shut-up hearts" and mankind sees itself united, even if only for a brief period of the year.

In no uncertain terms, Fred gets it. He tries to share this message along with the invite to Christmas dinner with his crotchety uncle, to which he's humbugged out of his office. Sometimes, it takes a trio of Christmas spirits for some people to get with the program.

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