What does young Scrooge's choice of reading materials reveal about his character?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Ebenezer Scrooge was a young boy, he read books like Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves from One Thousand and One Nights, Valentine and Orson, Aladdin, and Robinson Crusoe. These are adventurous stories that tell fantastic tales.

Ali Baba, for example, is a poor woodcutter who learns of a thieves' lair that opens with the words "Open sesame." The thieves try to kill Ali Baba, but his servant girl ruins their plans. Valentine and Orson are two brothers who are left in the woods as babies. Valentine is raised as a knight and Orson grows up wild in a bear's den, eventually tamed by his brother. There are magic and exotic locales in both of these stories. Robinson Crusoe is about a man who is marooned on a desert island; he encounters all kinds of trouble and frightening situations before he is rescued, twenty-eight years later. It, too, features an exotic location and all kinds of people with whom a young boy in England would never come into contact.

The choice of these texts, then, shows that he was interested in travel, far away lands, and unusual (to him) people. Furthermore, he seems to have been interested in underdogs: poor woodcutters, abandoned babes, a man stranded alone on an island. Scrooge spent so much time alone, without family or companion, and so perhaps he was comforted by stories of other individual men who found some measure of success despite the odds against them.

Read the study guide:
A Christmas Carol

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