High English. This is literature.
Written in five parts, these total five gongs or strikes of the departed. Each strike to be tallied by Stave (as chapters), and all will lead to the event. This book is the gift, time is the present, mankind in his progress is the reason.
Stave is ‘to gird’. To grit the teeth, and know thy enemy. To guard some virtue, or to cushion some tender necessity. Stave One represents friendship. Marley’s appearance is one borne of remembrance. Scrooge is dead, too. He draws his life from a cold, hard epitaph. He is not crotchety (as is sometimes portrayed), his features are frozen, icy, sharp. Nefarious, (p. 6), « the ice within him nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue… ». Scrooge is the hostility of economic compression.
Written as dank, not chilled. The re-enactment, at least as far as I’ve known, is merely cold and wretched. This is desperate, haunting, bleak.
In description of Marley’s former abode, now inhabited by Scrooge, (p. 15), « He lived in Chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner. They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and have forgotten the way out again… »
Scrooge was ill. He had a cold in his head, so sits « down by the fire to take his gruel. » Dickens becomes The Good Book here, where the tiles of scriptures on the fireplace surround might have had the power to tap the embers of joyful reassurance of memory, instead Scrooge is ignorant of capacity to notice. Marley’s ghost manifests, (p. 18), « The fireplace was an old one … and paved all round with quaint Dutch tiles, designed to illustrate the scriptures … (with) hundreds of figures to attract his thoughts, and yet the face of Marley … came like the ancient Prophet’s rod, and swallowed up the whole. » He pronounces his friend’s weaknesses, and foreshadows occurrences, (p. 25), « You will be haunted » (not visited) « by three Spirits. »
This was Stave One – Guard against regret.
Stave Two begins with Scrooge’s faith. There is no disbelief. There is only wonder. The dawning of this appearance speaks and pleads. She is Christmas nearly forgotten. She fades, (p. 31), « For as its belt sparkled and glittered, now in one part, now in another … so the figure itself fluctuated … being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body; of which dissolving parts no outline would be visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away … I am the ghost of Christmas past … « , but she is unremarkable since being untended and ill-kept.
This was Stave Two – Guard against loss. Remember tradition anchors wishful remembrace and the kindred heart.
Stave Three – He (still) has life. We ARE our own time upon this Earth. ‘I am the life’ is this appearance. Life is confident, colorful, festive, buoyant, and I am urgency. This spirit is the one most easily recognized and represented. This time, remember, has reminder; to mourne the loss of waste is its weight, the first bite is for loss.
(P. 56), « … and for Christmas daws to peck at, » how can Shakespeare not involve himself if this author has had occasion to fall immersed?
This appearance is one of ‘selves’ (p. 63), « If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race … will find him here. » The Future being ability, Scrooge’s ability.
Bob Cratchit is first introduced by name, here, in Stave Three. He is just another infraction, until noticed.
Dickens’ perfunctory tribute to the liquid nature of earthly mass, (p. 67), « Not to sea? To sea. To Scrooge’s horror, looking back, he saw the last of the land … his ears were deafened by the thundering of water, as it rolled, and roared, and raged … and fiercely tried to undermine the earth. » Water has literary recurrence; we are either an amount of fluid, or there isn’t life. Every book is a container.
Stave Three – In the present, and to good health. Guard against illness.
Stave Four is the guilt, (p. 78), « in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. » This is not the verdict, but this is where you’ve trodden. The heaviness of Scrooge’s climate, his thick fog of indifference is what spreads as the density of weather.
Scrooge is cured, and re-kindled, (p. 79), « … as I hope to live to be another man from what I was … ».
Stave Four is to keep vigil. Guard precious time.
Stave Five is emergence. He has come around and is well, overnight, but in time. He discovers caring.
Stave Five – To be living is to empathize.
Dickens and classic are synonymous. This book is a gift given to mankind.