Tuesday, December 01, 2015

His Usual Melancholy Tavern | Dickens



Illustration by Harry Furniss.

Borrowing from Siskoid's format on his Hamlet blog, as we look at Dickens' text, I'm going to copy the entire text of the section in italics and insert commentary. That'll help identify elements that we want to pay attention to in the adaptations.

Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern; and having read all the newspapers, and beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker's-book, went home to bed.

Since Scrooge doesn't observe Christmas (and Dickens uses the word "usual"), we're safe in assuming that this is Scrooge's normal routine. The popular image is of Scrooge's eating his gruel alone in his cold apartment, but we forget that that's a second "meal" for medicinal purposes (come back next year for more on that!). Scrooge doesn't waste money and he's not eating at a fancy restaurant, but he's also not opposed to paying someone else to fix and serve him his meal. Something to watch in the adaptations is whether and how they communicate the "melancholy" of the scene.

He lived in chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner.

Most adaptations don't care about this, but at least one of them makes a big deal out of it.

They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and have forgotten the way out again. It was old enough now, and dreary enough, for nobody lived in it but Scrooge, the other rooms being all let out as offices.

I don't think any of the adaptations mention that there are offices in the building where Scrooge lives. In fact, most of them imply that he owns the whole place. We won't really see how that's handled this year, but we'll follow Scrooge into the house next year and hopefully I'll remember to come back and talk about it.

The yard was so dark that even Scrooge, who knew its every stone, was fain to grope with his hands. The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the house, that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold.

We will get to see the exterior of Scrooge's house this year, so something to pay attention to is how it's depicted. Do the adaptations put the house hidden away from the street behind a long yard?

Posts should be shorter this year. We're really only looking for a couple of things:

  • If the adaptation includes Scrooge's dinner, how does it communicate the sadness of the scene?
  • How is the house portrayed? What does this say about Scrooge?
  • If the adaptation adds anything to this section, what's the purpose of that addition?

1 comment:

Caffeinated Joe said...

Small scene, but most certainly setting a gloomy, mysterious mood for what lies ahead! Can't wait!

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