Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol – Stave Three, The Second of the Three Spirits
This marks the center of the story. It is probably the most famous part of the story as well. We have Scrooge travelling with the Ghost of Christmas Present. It contains the scene in the Cratchit household where we meet Bob’s family and Tiny Tim says, “God bless us, every one!” It also has the scene at Scrooge’s Nephew’s. We see them play Blind Man’s Bluff and Yes and No.
But the third stave also has some of the least famous scenes. Scrooge and the Spirit travel widely. They visit miners and sailors and the sick and the poor. The one thread that ties it all together is everyone is in better spirits than would be expected because of Christmas Day.
In one way, it is an odd stave. For much of it, Scrooge seems to be a secondary character. The focus is really on the people Scrooge is seeing. Scrooge takes an interest, but is more of a bystander. The prior excursion with the Ghost of Christmas Past has done its work which makes this more reinforcement than something new.
My guess is that Dickens is simply celebrating Christmas in this stave. It isn’t there to move the story along. It is purposely there to take some time to stop and enjoy the day.
Probably my favorite part of this stave is at the end when Scrooge meets Ignorance and Want. They are depicted as children who cling to the Spirit. They are grotesquely hideous. The Spirit warns Scrooge to beware of the children. It is some obvious symbolism, but it is effective. And the scene gets us the line, “he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.”
That’s about all I have to say. This stave has its fun moments, but really the Ghost of Christmas Present is just prelude to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.