A Christmas Carol Art Gallery

By: Sabrina Ceraso

"Candles were flaring... like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air." pg. 3 This story is set in the time of the Industrial Revolution in England, along with city structure and environment. Factories now spit out pollution into the air, adding harm to London's already foggy atmosphere. Dickens describes the setting to represent the change of the times, and this painting demonstrates the thick, brown air present everywhere at the time.
"Some few [phantoms] (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free." pg. 16 These ghostly characters with chains sent to haunt the world show that the social classes within politics weren't always honest towards their people, and perhaps served as a warning towards the government that there would be consequences for their actions. This sculpture of "Justice" is the model of how governments should be.
"Old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs Fezziwig... three or four and twenty pair of partners; people who were not to be trifled with; people who would dance, and had no notion of walking." pg. 25 Fezziwig's grand party and all the people in attendance represent the more welcome mixing of social classes before the Industrial Revolution came into full force. This picture represents another time when people of all sorts mix willingly; at funerals.
"Some shaggy ponies now were seen trotting towards them with boys upon their backs, who called to other boys in country gigs and carts, driven by farmers." pg. 20 The first ghost takes Scrooge back to his childhood, a time when the Industrial Revolution was still rising. Many people were content being farmers in the countryside, and it was all many had known. I like to think that this sketch of a farmer is capturing the moment of his reaction towards the new technology being developed in the city.
"They were not forty children conducting themselves like one, but every child was conducting itself like forty." pg. 30 Belle's childrens' behavior reminds me of the "surplus" population that Scrooge refers to, which is comprised of many orphans alone in the streets. While they may be expected to manage as adults and try provide, they are still lost children without anything to guide them, like the orphans in this painting.
"Furrows that crossed and recrossed each other a hundred times." pg. 34 Scrooge sees all of the dirty roads in his "travels," and I am reminded of the Qin dynasty before standardization. The industrial revolution focused on goods before city beautification, as evident by the filth of the streets. This geometric painting is the polar opposite of those roads and times, with clean lines replacing chaotic ruts.
"Bob had but fifteen 'bob' a-week himself." pg. 36 The irony Dickens uses in giving a character the same name as his payment represents how the people depended on their money for their lives, in essence, they are their money. Owing to this fact, we know that the person who once owned the coin pictured here was indeed a wealthy one.
"Strictly in a business point of view." pg. 52 Scrooge's character had grown to treat people more as pawns on a chessboard of money than anything else. This attitude became more prominent during this time due to the shift towards a society revolving around money. The man in this painting is a personification of the change in behavior towards fellow men, with his crisp gray suit and smart hat and cane.
"Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle." pg. 68 Speaking of economics in the Industrial Revolution, the dependence on coal for fuel and warmth was extreme, and Bob's joy at this simple sentence uttered by his master is quite the representation of the importance of coal. The same kind of joy is reflected in the old woman's face in this painting when she is able to share her coal with others.
"'My dear sir,' said the other, shaking hands with him. 'I don't know what to say to such munifi...'" Subsequent to his change of heart, Scrooge gives an extremely generous amount to benefit the poor. However, the collector's enormous surprise at the sum is evidence that it was quite rare for the rich to reach down to help the poor, and how delighted people are to see charity. It is a plea to the readers to make a change to this rarity in society. This painting of Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal Son is to me a beautiful illustration of the reward that Scrooge and all of us can receive when we turn our hearts, and extend our hands, to our fellow men.
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