Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Christmas Carol - Larry Grey on playing Ebenezer Scrooge

Ebenezer Scrooge is the ultimate story of Christmas and of Redemption. Ebenezer Scrooge is arguably both one of the most famous characters created by Charles Dickens and in English literature. Scrooge's catchphrase, "Bah, Humbug" is often used to express disgust with many of the modern Christmas traditions. He is the focal character of Dickens 1843 Novella "A Christmas Carol. At the beginning of the novella, Scrooge is a cold-hearted miser who despises Christmas. Dickens describes him thus: "The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice...".

There have been many theories as to how Dickens arrived at the name for the character. My favorite, and I think the one that actually Describes him the best, and influences how I portray him, is that Dickens chose the name Ebenezer which in scripture and history means "the stone of help" to describe the help given to Scrooge by the spirits to change his life. The surname may be from the now obscure English verb scrouge, meaning "squeeze" or "press" Describing the cold hearted miser who has pressed the  joy out of life and has taken refuge in greed, avarice, and life without emotion and caring.  His last name has come into the English language as a byword for miserliness and misanthropy.

Scrooge's story represents to me the ultimate meaning of Christmas. It is a story of redemption. To a life trapped in darkness that holds only doom and despair comes a message of hope and change and light. Throughout A Christmas Carol the personality of Ebenezer Scrooge shifts from a man who only cares about himself and his wealth to a man who cares about others. This change in personality is due to the messages of all four visiting ghosts. The first ghost, the ghost of Jacob Marley, gave Scrooge the initial warning of how a wasted life of greed, spite and selfishness towards others, such as shady business practices, meagre wages, long work hours, and unreasonable punishment, will result an agonizing afterlife full of unending torment; constantly suffering and never resting. The Ghost of Christmas Past reminds Scrooge of how kind he used to be and makes him realize how much he’s changed since then. It reminded Scrooge of the joy he once felt and could spread to others, such as his sister or wife. The Ghost of Christmas Present showed him the abundance of society and how it was not properly distributed amongst the social classes. This was a reoccurring theme for Dickens in many of his tales.  Want and Greed appear to show that if the people are not taken care of properly, then the gap between the classes and the anger in society will grow.

Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows what Scrooge’s fate is; however Scrooge questions if it was Christmas yet to come, or Christmas of what could be. This final encounter really showed Scrooge that in order for others to care about someone, that person must first care about others. That is the message I hope the audience walks away with. To Care for others. The message of Christmas is redemption, change, hope and life! 

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