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Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Charles Dickens Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 24 Nov 2009 14:38:29 -0800
TEXT/PLAIN (60 lines)
Friends of the Dickens Forum,

	Robert Newsom <[log in to unmask]> has been looking for some
exactness in testing whether Scrooge qualifies as a miser:    (pjm)
*OED* gives the definition "A person who hoards wealth and lives miserably
in order to do so" and thus reminds us that the word is cognate with
"misery," both deriving from the classical Latin *miser*, an adjective
meaning "wretched, unfortunate."

Scrooge certainly lives drastically below his means and is miserable
centrally and generally. The *Carol's* movement is in the end to make him
happy as well as to make those who surround him happy through the happiness
he finds in his new-found benevolence. He becomes extremely generous with
his wealth. He may not be as extreme in his pre-conversion pathology as the
misers Noddy Boffin reads about, but the misery and the pathology of the
miser are surely the whole point.

Emeritus Professor Robert Newsom
e-mail: [log in to unmask]
Department of English
University of California, Irvine
Responding to:

> Friends of the Dickens Forum,
>        The question of Scrooge's miserliness will not quite lie dead, so
> it appears.  We are disposed to believe that the term "miser" is a broad
> one and that David Parker's consideration of the topic largely covers the
> question.  Scrooge is mean but his conduct does not come near that of
> the great 19th-century misers like John Elwes.  On that point Bert
> Hornback has expressed enthusiastic agreement: "What David Parker says
> about Scrooge's "meanness" is spot on."
>        Still one may find miserly aspects of his character.  Here
> George Newlin <[log in to unmask]> spots one of them and on that basis
> wants him labeled "miser."  Here is what he writes--David Parker's post on
> the whole question is included below--:             (pjm)
> --
> I'm inclined to disagree with David.  "Darkness was
> cheap, and Scrooge liked it."  Very miserly, I think.
> george
> And George Parker:
> > -----
> > Is Scrooge really a miser?  He loves wealth, he's careful about spending,
> > and he declines to be generous to staff, relations, charitable causes
> etc,
> > but he has none of the obsessive-compulsive traits of a true miser.
> > People often think of his gruel before the arrival of Marley's ghost, but
> it's
> > medicinal gruel for his cold.  He's already eaten dinner at a
>  chop-house,  not something a miser would do.
> >
> > Scrooge is mean, I submit, but not a miser.
> >
> > David Parker