A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol Philosophical Viewpoints: Rationality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Stave.Paragraph)
"What else can I be," returned the uncle, "when I live in such a world of fools as this? Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in 'em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could work my will," said Scrooge indignantly, "every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!" (1.21)
Ah, here we are. This is a spot on summary of the kind of overreaching Dickens was worried about in the utilitarian theories of the economists—that the bottom line is the end all and be all, and that nothing else should matter to a self-interested individual but the state of his finances.
"There's another fellow," muttered Scrooge; who overheard him: "my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking about a merry Christmas. I'll retire to Bedlam." (1.44)
Okay, so first of all, a quick Shmoop FYI: Bedlam is the famous London hospital for the insane. Now that we've got that tidbit out of the way, we'll point out that Scrooge is unable to reconcile the idea of someone having positive emotions and at the same time being financially insecure—the very thought of mixing these two things seems crazy—Bedlam-worthy.
Marley's face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look […]
As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker again.
To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy, would be untrue. But he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished, turned it sturdily, walked in, and lighted his candle. (1.82-84)
This is the first instance of Scrooge fighting off the supernatural and its effects—the "terrible sensation"—by committing to his nonsense-free and oh so "sturdy" approach to the world.