Graham Holderness says A Christmas Carol categorically that the writer’s imagination fails. Scrooge is allowed to slide into a rarefied limbo of Christmas sentiment and Christian charity, so abstract as to be empty of life and meaning. His encounter with the three ghosts is far more credible, far more realistic, than this closing vision of life of permanent goodness, which scarcely resembles human life at all.
In one respect, of course, this misses the point, the coda A Christmas Carol is not about the imaginative rendering of life at all. However, the enciphering and selling of a cultural dispensation and as such it, as it were signs off the edifying characterization that has gone before. On exit Scrooge is like a figure in an enjoyable cartoon, Holderness does bring out a fairly obvious and important fact about the Carol, that it is ultimately a work divided against itself. His own argument, however, only deals with the Spirits of Christmas. He does not discuss the haunting human, Marley, at all. This, it seems to me, is a strange omission, but I think I can understand why it happens.
As Graham Holderness has observed, even when Scrooge is at his most crabbed and cussed, grimly fantasizing about Christmas revellers being buried with stakes of holly through their hearts, he is rendered largely harmless by the narrative in which he finds himself. The medium in which he exists––the prose of the tale––is so alive and crackling with the energy and vitality of imagination and humor that it gives us assurance that the menace of Scrooge can be dealt with.
Holderness goes on to say that “As it approaches this last great gulf of human separation, the writer’s imagination fails. The great plea for transformed and humanized relationships become a five-shilling wage-rise. The great challenge to the callous power of Victorian capitalism becomes a social security payout. The powerful imaginative perception of human loneliness,...