RIP Ebenezer Scrooge

You know what story doesn’t make sense to me? A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.

Ebenezer Scrooge’s redemption arc is one of the most celebrated in all of literature, yet it has a glaring error that makes it fall apart under any scrutiny.

Sorry to spoil the ending for you, but the climax of the story happens in a graveyard where Scrooge discovers a headstone with his own name on it. He begs the Ghost of Christmas Future to tell him that he can change this fate. Only after this moment does Scrooge realize he has to change himself.

Here’s the thing, though: he can’t change this future.

Not in any meaningful way. Ebenezer Scrooge is going to die. And even if he somehow turns his life around and becomes a better man, he will still die. Having an epiphany and becoming generous doesn’t magically make you immortal.

And it is clear that Scrooge fears death itself, and not merely the fact that he will go unmourned. His vision of the future, after all, is filled with people badmouthing him, yet it’s only when he sees his own headstone that he loses his composure.

And while you could argue that Scrooge’s new, better behavior may extend his life for a time—even years—he will still find his way to that grave we have every reason to believe still terrifies him.

But Enough about That

This post isn’t actually about A Christmas Carol. The idea was just on my mind. And one little nit to pick isn’t going to ruin one of the most celebrated and famous stories in the world.

That’s the wonderful thing about stories. The ones that truly work can be loved despite their flaws. We learn how to forgive them even as we first experience them. And we feel no need to correct them (unless you’re filming live-action Disney remakes, but in that case you have much bigger problems than anything I can fix).

To quote a famous author:

A work of art is never finished. It is merely abandoned.

PAUL VALERY

The writer’s job is therefore not to seek perfection, but forgiveness.

I’m too tired to elaborate further. I’m sure we all have a crazy week to look forward to.