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A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
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A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens - Audiobook
Charles Dickens | ISBN: N/a | 2004 | MP3 | 22 Mb

Plot summary - A Christmas Carol

Stave I: Marley's Ghost

On a snowy Christmas Eve, seven years to the day after the death of his business partner Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge and his downtrodden clerk Bob Cratchit are at work in Scrooge’s counting-house. Scrooge's nephew, Fred, arrives with seasonal greetings and an invitation to Christmas dinner, but Scrooge dismisses him with "Bah! Humbug!", declaring that Christmas is a fraud. Two gentlemen collecting charitable donations for the poor are likewise rebuffed by Scrooge, he insists that the poor laws and workhouses are sufficient to care for the poor, and that "If they would rather die [than go there], they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population". As he and his clerk prepare to leave, he grudgingly permits Cratchit one day's paid holiday the following day.

After dinner, Scrooge returns home to his cheerless rooms in an otherwise deserted building, and a series of supernatural experiences begins. His door knocker appears to transform into Marley's face; a "locomotive hearse" seems to mount the dark stairs ahead of him; the pictures on the tiles in his fireplace transform into images of Marley's face. Finally all the bells in the house ring loudly, there is a clanking of chains in the cellar and on the stairs, and the ghost of Marley passes through the closed door into the room.

The ghost warns Scrooge that if he does not change his ways, he will suffer Marley's fate, but Scrooge's fate would be even worse. He will walk the earth eternally after death, invisible among his fellow men, burdened with chains, seeing the misery and suffering he could have alleviated in his life but now powerless to intervene. Marley has arranged Scrooge's only chance of redemption: three spirits will visit him on successive nights, and they may help change him and save him from his fate. As Marley leaves, Scrooge gets a nightmare glimpse of the tormented spectres who drift unseen among the living, and, shattered, he falls into bed and sleeps.

Stave II: The First of the Three Spirits

The Ghost of Christmas Past, a strange mixture of young and old, male and female, with a light shining from the crown of its head, appears at the stroke of one. It leads Scrooge on a journey to some of his past Christmases, where key events shaped his life and character. He sees his late sister Fan, who intervened to rescue him from lonely exile at boarding school, and, recalling his recent treatment of Fan's son Fred, Scrooge feels the first stirrings of regret. They revisit a merry Christmas party given by Fezziwig, Scrooge's kindly apprentice-master, and Scrooge thinks guiltily of his own behaviour toward Bob Cratchit. Finally, he is reminded how his love of money lost him the love of his life, Belle, and the happiness this cost him. Furious, Scrooge turns on the spirit, snuffs it like a candle with its cap, and finds himself crumpling his bed sheets and wakes up and feels remorseful.

Stave III: The Second of the Three Spirits

Scrooge wakes at the stroke of one, confused to find it is still night. After a time he rises and finds the second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, in an adjoining room, on a throne made of Christmas food and drink. This spirit, a great genial man in a green coat lined with fur, takes him through the bustling streets of London on the current Christmas morning, sprinkling the essence of Christmas onto the happy populace. They observe the meagre but happy Christmas celebrations of the Cratchit family and the sweet nature of their lame son Tiny Tim, and when the Spirit foretells an early death for the child if things remain unchanged, Scrooge is distraught. He is shown what others think of him: the Cratchits toast him, but reluctantly, and "a shadow was cast over the party for a full five minutes". Scrooge's nephew and his friends gently mock his miserly behaviour at their Christmas party, but Fred maintains his uncle's potential for change, and Scrooge demonstrates a childlike enjoyment of the celebrations.

They travel far and wide, and see how even the most wretched of people mark Christmas in some way, whatever their circumstances. The Ghost, however, grows visibly older, and explains he must die that night. The Ghost tortures Scrooge. He shows Scrooge two pitiful children huddled under his robes who personify the major causes of suffering in the world, "Ignorance" and "Want", with a grim warning that the former is especially harmful. At the end of the visitation, the bell strikes twelve. The Ghost of Christmas Present vanishes and the third spirit appears to Scrooge.

Stave IV: The Last of the Three Spirits

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come takes the form of a grim spectre, robed in black, who does not speak and whose body is entirely hidden except for one pointing hand. This spirit frightens Scrooge more than the others, and harrows him with a vision of a future Christmas with the Cratchit family bereft of Tiny Tim. A rich miser, whose death saddens nobody and whose home and corpse have been robbed by ghoulish attendants, is revealed to be Scrooge himself: this is the fate that awaits him. Without it explicitly being said, Scrooge learns that he can avoid the future he has been shown and alter the fate of Tiny Tim, but only if he changes. Weeping, he swears to do so, and awakes to find that all three spirits have visited in just one night, and that it is Christmas morning.

Stave V: The End of It

Scrooge changes his life and reverts to the generous, kind-hearted soul he was in his youth. He anonymously sends the Cratchits the biggest turkey in the butcher shop, meets the charity workers to pledge an unspecified but impressive amount of money, and spends Christmas Day with Fred and his wife.

The next day Scrooge catches his clerk arriving late and pretends to be his old miserly self, before revealing his new persona to an astonished Cratchit. He assists Bob and his family, becomes an adopted uncle to Tiny Tim, who does not die, and gains a reputation as a kind and generous man who embodies the spirit of Christmas in his life.

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