Monday, December 07, 2020

“Another Idol Has Displaced Me” | Graphic Classics, Volume 19: Christmas Classics

Alex Burrows and Micah Farritor's version stages this scene interestingly. It's in a room, but it's large and mostly empty except for a couple of chairs and a fireplace. The chairs are simple and wooden, so the spartan furnishings of this room contradict its sheer size. I wonder if this is a new house that Scrooge has invested in, but doesn't yet have the money (or even the desire, if he's already a miser) to decorate.

The chairs are also back to back for some reason, which creates tension when Belle and Scrooge are both seated in them. As the scene opens though, Scrooge is seated in the chair facing the fire and Belle is standing nearby.

She's dressed in black and wearing a veil appropriate for mourning, which leads me to another possibility about the room. Maybe it's her parents' house and everything has been moved out with their death except these two chairs. I like the ambiguity and that - like the mourning dress - there are just enough details to suggest some possibilities for why Belle is choosing this particular time to break up.

It's an abridged conversation that has her sit in the other chair for a bit before getting up and leaving Scrooge in the room. Young Scrooge looks sad and alone, but makes no move to stop her. Old Scrooge looks pitiful when he begs the Spirit to show him no more.

There's no further argument though as the Spirit rushes through a few more visions, each just taking a panel. We see Belle and a man holding a baby together in a room that's decorated for Christmas. They aren't named and there's no dialogue, so I'd be curious to show this to someone who isn't so familiar with the story and see if it's clear that this is Belle's future.

The Spirit then shows Scrooge a couple of visions that aren't directly in the book. Dickens refers to them through Belle's husband, but here we actually see Scrooge working in his office as an undertaker walks by, and then Scrooge in the graveyard at Marley's funeral. What's interesting about this is that it isn't until the graveyard vision that Old Scrooge freaks out again and demands to be removed from this place. 

So in this version, it isn't seeing Belle happy without him that's distressing; it's reliving Marley's death. Belle is a part of it, but the bigger deal seems to be that Scrooge has been left alone. First by Belle and then by Marley. Well, and I guess by Fan before that. Belle was his fault, but Fan and Marley weren't. And making Scrooge's loneliness the real issue supports what I think Dickens is doing in the text: having the Spirit remind Scrooge through these memories that he was abandoned and alone for much of his life, but had seasons of happiness in his relationships at Fezziwig's, with Belle, and even with Marley.

I think it's easy sometimes to assume that Scrooge and Marley had a cutthroat, competitive relationship. And maybe there was an element of that. But we shouldn't forget that Marley cared enough about Scrooge to petition for a chance to warn him. And that even though Scrooge was frightened of Marley's Ghost, he was also oddly comforted by it.

When Scrooge insists on seeing no more, the Spirit simply complies. There's no struggle, no vision of other faces, and no need for Scrooge to extinguish the Ghost with its own cap. Scrooge simply finds himself alone in his own apartment, climbs into bed, and goes to sleep.

1 comment:

Caffeinated Joe said...

Interesting thoughts on Scrooge feeling abandoned at points in his life, however it happened, and turning bitter instead of analyzing the reasons. The art here is just not my thing though.


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