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Dickens & Andersen


Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House  

Page 3

ANDERSEN's dreams are different enough. In a fairy tale of his (A Story) he sets a ghost to exhibit a person's consciousness, the same thing Dickens had done in his popular story A Christmas Carol, but with different principles and results. It is sad how many Christmas holidays we have passed having been bombed by movies or TV programs with the adventure of Scrooge. It gives no special credit to us that this work is so popular. There exists, of course, in extenuation of our response the allure of Dickens' world. The warmth of the streets, even of the icy ones, of homes, of the very objects. Dickens is incapable of conceiving the uninviting, how then could he validly speak of its opposite? We watch Scrooge even in hell, and yet the very noise of his evil chains sounds sweet to our ears; one could descend to hell if he was to listen to this noise. As the things in Dickens' works melt into a total warmth they can not offer a safe ground for distinctions to be rooted on. The scheme "good-reward, wrong-punishment" allows Dickens to find an easy answer: it is easier for one to support expeditions of philanthropy; it is also more spectacular and approved, whilst insight is neither easy nor applaudable by the masses. Thus, in Dickens the ghosts that undertake the restoration of Scrooge's consciousness, show him the consequences of his meanness, and among them eternal hell.

     In the corresponding fairy tale of Andersen's the one who is being showed round is a pastor with fiery speeches on eternal hell to his credit. Among other debased men he also looks at a horrible miser:

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