Tomorrow, I start discussion Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with my literature students. We’ve only got four classes left (three, if you take into account the fact that most students don’t show up for the last class of the semester), and I’m hoping to have fun with them.
Every single student in the class admitted to being familiar with the story, but to never having read it. I’ve read it several times and, as part of a beloved Christmas Eve tradition with Mr. Chili’s parents, have read excerpts from it every year for the past 15 or so (Dad Chili usually reads the part just before Marley’s ghost appears to Scrooge; he confessed years ago that this bit terrified him as a child).
We’re going to watch Patrick Stewart’s interpretation of the story, as well, though I haven’t yet decided if we’ll watch the whole thing at once or split it up into two classes. The film is WONDERFUL – if you haven’t seen it, I HIGHLY recommend it – and there are a lot of places where some careful investigation might yield some interesting conversation: like Zeffirelli’s version of Hamlet, there’s a funeral scene in the beginning of Stewart’s film that wasn’t in the novel, and there are several quirks of Stewart’s portrayal of Scrooge that I think will be fun to scrutinize.
I also promised that I’d show the class sections of The Muppets’ Christmas Carol. I LOVE this movie (“light the lamp, not the rat! Light the lamp, not the rat!!” and (Rizzo) “How do you know what Scrooge is doin’? We’re down here and he’s up dere.” (Gonzo) ” I told you, storytellers are omniscient; I know everything!” Let’s not even mention the scene where Scrooge ends up at Kermit and Piggy’s door!).
While I’d probably get some slack from my more academically inclined colleagues, I think that looking at this interpretation is a very valuable use of class time; for a lot of children, this is their first experience with the story. Seeing how the Henson gang chose to relay the themes and ideas of the novel for a younger audience will give my students a wonderful basis for comparison of the novel and other cinematic treatments.
Don’t you wish you were in my lit class?