Anthony Trollope's "Christmas at Thompson Hall"

Written 1876 (April)
Published 1876, Graphic, Christmas Number
Illustrated William Small
Published in a book 1882 (December), Why Frau Frohmann Raised Her Prices; and Other Stories, Wm Isbister

In 1998 Robert Wright started us off:

Subject: "Christmas at Thompson Hall"

Date: Fri, 3 Apr 1998

This is an excellent story, with good characterisation and is a great "page turner".

What a pity about Chapter 5. As soon as the Christian name of Mr Jones is made known to us, the ending is clear. Yet our characters spend fully 2 pages not understanding the relationship.

With that sole exception, there are many apects of this tale I admired.

Robert J Wright from work in Reading, Berks

April 6, 1998

To Trollope-l

Re: "Christmas At Thompson Hall", or How the Wife's Revenge Backfired

This is one of the most enjoyable of Trollope's short stories. Like other of his Christmas stories it is actually not about Christmas, but about one lady's agon to get there. It seems her husband married her because her money would give him an easy life, and, as the narrator more than hints, he's not too anxious to return to the family hall, to confront the other males who have to work for their bread. Charles and Mary Brown have no children and she spends her life babying him, and he "steadying" her. Theirs is a supine existence most of the time. It's realistic and believable.

I was riveted by the long sequence of her getting lost in the vast hotel like some cold mouse in a maze, lost and at moments bewildered but never admitting it to anyone, certainly never letting down her guard, and above all not yielding an inch (or franc) until she has to. It's another comeuppance for pride, a source of comedy that seems to appeal to Trollope. A number of the first person narrator stories are comeuppance ones, but in these as some of us have said, we are never sure whether the central character is aware of quite how obnoxious he or she has been. When it is thrust into the third person and we are distanced sufficiently from the character, we can both empathize and judge because Trollope seems to be in control, now he enters the mind of his central female and we feel her agon, and again he distances us and himself in a variety of ways.

First the scene is set: the husband did not want to go to this family meeting. He couldn't care less that it's Christmas. He cares about his creature comforts first. So she must placate him, bribe him by babying him. He then punishes her through pretending to be more sick than he actually probably is. She is at last driven to find him some warming medicine, mustard, and leaves the safety of their chilled bedroom in a heroic quest through the vast,cold and, unpeopled endless corridors, caverns, up-and-down stairways of a Parisian hotel, always holding her candle with one hand and her (mongramed) handkerchief with the other. It is then Trollope settles us into her mind:

"To run along the first corridor till she came to a flight of stairs was easy enough, and easy enough to descend them. Then there was another corridor, and another flight, and a third corridor, and a third flight, and she began to think that she was wrong. She found herself in a part of the hotel which she had not hitherto visited, and soon discovered by looking through an open door or two that she had found her way among a set of private sitting rooms which she had not seen before. Then she tried to make her way back, up the same stairs, and through the same passages, so that she might...." (p 267).

What's good about the above is it both moves the story along while exploring the mind of the character. Nothing is wasted. The reader does not become impatient. The atmosphere is tense with anxiety, suspense, dismay, and a real trauma. Yet it remains comic because the narrator comes forth to to interject with commentary at key points. I thought of Fuseli's paintings when Trollope describes the wife reaching for the mustard thus:

"As she paused with her fair hand upon the top of the jar, while the other held the white cloth on which the medicinal compound was to be placed, she looked like Lady Macbeth as she listened at Duncan's chamber door" (p 269).

At such moments Mary Brown disappears and we are watching a piece of magnficent theatre -- of which the hotel is one element. Trollope also uses melodramatic mock-heroic epic similes like those we find in Fielding's novels, e.g, when we with Mary realize she has put the mustard on "the wrong man, " and then we get a mock heroic series of similes:

"Not Priam wakened in the dead of night, not Dido when she first learned that Aeneas had fled, not Othello when he learned Desdemona had been chaste, not Medea when she became conscious of her slaughtered children, could have been more struck with horror than was this British matron" (p 272).

We are led to identify and go through a kind of catharsis. Mary Brown even has the requisite usual tragic flaw of pride. She would not condescend to ask the porter which was to the dining room. She will not condescend to let him see how vulnerable she is. She is a Juno we are told -- and will keep her hauteur at any price. Well it costs, hauteur, it costs. She's also a bit cheap--she and Mr Brown are not exactly rich either. Thus she does not tip the servant. And so she makes an enemy, or at any rate, fails to make a friend. And she falls. Pride goeth before a fall. She continually lies. She lies to the porter. She says she has forgotten her handkerchief. And so she has to spend precious time in front of him in the dining room once he takes her there looking for it-- when what she wants is the mustard. She does want it for free. Then good man he walks her back to her room. She has to wait until he disappears and then set out again herself on her quest.

When the deed is done, it is unwillingness to admit to the unknown man she has made this ludricrous mistake, unwillingness to be vulnerable that makes her flee the scene of the crime--again we have a sin, or a least a failure in virtue--she lacks charity and courage. She thinks to do it,

"For a moment she stood all but paralyzed after that faint ineffectual movement of her arm;" for a moment she tries to take back the mustard, but alas, "he stirred his head uneasily on the pillow, opened wider his lips, and twice in rapid succession snored louder than before." (p 272).

But maybe the man would shout, everyone would come to the door and she'd be made a fool of, so flee she does. She cannot do it also because the man is young,

"She watched him for a moment longer, and then, with the candle in her hand, she fled.

Poor human nature! Had he been an old man, even a middle-aged man, she would not have left him to his unmerited sufferings" (p. 273).

Alas husband is waiting up for her. She had hoped he'd be sleeping. So she lies again: she couldn't find any mustard. I found the narrator's line about what a shame such a good lady should tell so many lies very funny. These stories of comeuppances tell us truths about human nature we don't like to admit, such as people lie pretty easily.

In this light it's interesting how she moves from one lie to another as each one is scrutinized and found to be improbable. She says she was hardly gone at all, but the clock defies her, and her husband becomes "violent under the bedclothes" while she waxes angry herself. So she tries again. Well maybe there was some mustard, so now she tells the story of the porter or at least some of it. She has to admit she had not condescended to ask the porter where was the mustard. She says he took her away, and when he was gone, she went back, but, alas, there was no mustard. This lady is having a bad night.

She then sits up determined to take her husband away in the dawn hours before the crime is discovered. But it is so very cold, and her husband is puzzled at why she sits up. And then of course they come downstairs to be confronted by the monogrammed handkerchief and an unfriendly porter; upstairs is a very angry "gentleman" whom "something has been done to ... in his bedroom."

There is a salacious broad joke here. As with the good general's "Relics," the question of what the lady did to the strange gentleman is somewhat provocative. Trollope teases us to think about the intimacy of the scene. I would not use the word slapstick of this story -- though at heart it is a broad or robust practical joke both at a woman who would unconsciously like some revenge on her husband who pretends to be so sick and lays there sleeping so peacefully and at the husband who is an idler, a man who mollycoddles himself. The lady put the burning mustard on the strange man's neck because she thought it was her husband and wanted a bit of revenge and at the man who lay there and took this punishment -- because slapstick usually implies something external and rough. Americans can of the three Stooges; maybe this is more like the Marx Brothers in "A Night at the Opera" because there is an encompassing psychological atmosphere which engulfs the reader-spectator and is what makes the story which unfolds before our eyes riveting. I would call this rather an excruciating experience of comic anxiety milked for all its worth.

Another curious joke is about the handkerchief. I couldn't help remembering how the 17th century critic, Rhymer, mocked Othello and said the moral of the play was "ladies, look to your linen." It seems to me Trollope saw the humor in Othello, the farcical element and uses it here. We do have an allusion to the play (quoted above).

The story proceeds with the heroine caught up by those she snubbed, forced back upstairs, forced to tell the truth. We watch her squirm; our narrator pronounced her as like "a stag at bay" who "looks at the hounds which are attacking him" (p 283). This seems to be a favorite metaphor with Trollope. Then the long trek to England across the channel, on the train, in a coach, with the man across the way from her. She must stare at her crime.

One way of looking at this story is it's about a marriage, a woman stressed and compromised by this marriage. The man has little to do to show his manliness but exert his power over her. He is irritable because he has nothing else. Now she is confronted with the necessity of taking him to her family whom she knows more than half-despise him. She must coddle him to get there. She is punished for all this. Alas.

Another way is sheerly comic: it's about a woman who makes a serious mistake in a large hotel; Trollope combines trauma and comedy beautifully; what I also like about this story is that he does not sentimentalize the final scene. On the Victoria List a Prof Bruce Rosen wrote several pieces on the typical Victorian Christmas, and said a central part of the day was actually the meal. I like Trollope for getting us up to the great moment and then stopping the story.

And it is a Christmas story and so all must end in reconciliation, but that is undercut and presented briefly. Think of recognition in Shakespeare's Cymbeline. The characters do quite simply fall into one another's arms. There is a feast but it's much more modestly presented or at least not harped upon in the manner of Dickens, though Dickens is talking of a more average Victorian family for whom a Christmas dinner comes once a year. The Thompsons are an upper class comfortable bunch who wouldn't worry were the pudding not to be well cooked.

When I was young I loved Dickens's A Christmas Caroland I have known people who "celebrate" Christmas by watching films adapted from this book. I wonder what Trollope would have thought of that.

Ellen Moody

Sig wrote:

Subject: "Christmas at Thompson Hall"

I happen to own the Texas Christian University Press collection of all of Trollope's short stories. It is both beautifully printed and carefully edited by Betty Jane Breyer. All of the Christmas stories assigned by Ellen are in Vol. 1. When Trollope writes a story for Christmas distribution, the story stands on its own, and the actual event of Christmas comes in usually as a side issue, a date when two American Civil War generals, on different sides, plan to meet at their mutual father's house, for instance. AT, as usual, avoids the sentimentalites of Charles Dickens. No miser becomes benevolent in the stories by Trollope. In his autobiography, toward the end, he says: "Nothing can be more distasteful to me than to have to give a relish of Christmas to what I write. I feel the humbug implied by the nature of the order." By humbug, I sure that he means what I call sentimentality.

The story I thought I would discuss on the net was "Christmas at Thompson Hall." It is funny to a point of being almost slapstick. One Mrs. Brown, along with her husband, are staying at a hotel in Paris on their way to Christmas at Thompson Hall in England. Time is of essence, but Mr. Brown is ill with bronchitis. He sends his wife to a pot of mustard which he had spotted in the dining room. The idea is to make a mustard plaster so that he can travel in the morning. Hotels at night are very dark, and Mrs. Brown, with the mustard in a handkerchief, blunders into the wrong room and applies the plaster to the wrong person. Things get worse. But you have to read the story to discover the hilarious details. Needless to say, as in all good short stories in the nineteenth century, things work out all right in the end. The story is well written, and it is the details, not the writing style, which provides the humor. It is excellent Trollope and very funny to boot.

Tonight is Christmas Eve, and in our house we are preparing a dinner for over twenty relatives. Today I have to make last minute purchases and help make the stuffing for the turkey. We are a family that likes to be together, and tomorrow will be a glorious day. May it be equally glorious to everyone on the Trollope net, wherever you are and however you celebrate.


I responded to Sig and Elvira Casal (whose posting I have lost):

To me Trollope's "Christmas at Thompson Hall" vies with Dickens's A Christmas Carol in its technical brilliance and effectiveness. So I guess I am unwilling to use the word slapstick without qualification -- though at heart the story is a broad or robust practical joke both at the lady who put the burning mustard on the strange man's neck because she thought it was her husband and wanted a bit of revenge and at the man who lay there and took this punishment--because slapstick usually implies something external and rough. I can't forget the encompassing psychological atmosphere which engulfs the reader-spectator. I feel sorry for this poor woman. To me she has an excruciating experience which Trollope milks for comic anxiety. I don't know how different that is from Sig and Elvira's comments. Maybe not much :).


John Mize wrote about both "Christmas Day at Kirby Cottage" and "Christmas at Thompson Hall":

Re: "Christmas Day at Kirby Cottage" and "Christmas at Thompson Hall"

At 07:20 AM 4/8/98 +0100, Angela wrote:

"What did people make of this sense of triumph Trollope attributes to women on receiving a proposal?"

To me it seemed part of the idea that the business of a woman is to be married. Even if she doesn't want to marry a particular man, the fact that that man wants to marry her assures her that she will be ultimately successful in marrying someone so she can fulfill her vocation. I personally don't have much sympathy with the notion, but then the women I prefer in the 19th are the independent, troublesome types who annoyed Trollope, although he did find them fascinating. I didn't especially enjoy Christmas Day at Kirkby Cottage, mainly because it seemed so conventional. There didn't seem to be much in the story that was personal to Trollope. The story was well done and workmanlike, but that was about it. When I read Sutherland's quoting Trollope to the effect that writing Christmas stories on demand was well-paid hackwork, I wondered whether that was the problem. I much preferred "Christmas at Thompson Hall," where Trollope solved the Christmas story problem by essentially omitting Christmas.

John Mize

If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with "Merry Christmas" on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.

Charles Dickens

I replied:

This is to agree and say I like the way John puts it. Looking back, I would say the same comment applies to "The Mistletoe Bough." It too is a piece of well-done "upholstery" (to use Trollope's own terms for writing "Christmasy" stories on demand). We still have two Christmas stories to go: "The Telegraph Girl" and "Catherine Carmichael." I like the first very much, and the second has the kind of interest one finds in "A Widow's Mite" and "Two Generals." Trollope attempts to shape an serious examination of a complicated social dilemma or problem from a perspective which will give us some notion of what is meant by the word kindliness, charity, toleration, humbleness as opposed to pretences at these things which are actually disguised forms of selfishness, hardness, intolerance, and arrogance. What makes "Thompson Hall" stand out is its humor and the intensity of the psychological perspective. We were to laugh and feel sorry for this poor woman so anxious to get home for Christmas she will do anything, and ends up in the wrong bedroom with the wrong man plastering him with hot mustard in order to wreak just a bit of revenge on her humbug of a husband.

Ellen Moody

Christmas 1999:

To Trollope-l

December 12, 1999

Re: Trollope and Non-Christmas Christmas Stories

Like Wilkie Collins, Trollope was keenly aware of the meretricious nature of some of the 'celebration'; how it was got up for money and the cheer among most people very thin.

For example, in Chapter 20 of his Autbiography Trollope writes:

While I was writing The Way We Live Now, I was called upon by the proprietors of the Graphic for a Christmas story. I feel, with regard to literature, somewhat as I suppose an uphosterer and undertaker feels when he is called upon to supply a funeral. He has to supply it, however distasteful it may be. It is his business, and he will starve if he neglect it. So have I felt that, when anything in the shape of a novel was required, I was bound to produce it. Nothing can be more distasteful to me than to have to give a relish of Christmas to what I write. I feel the humbug implied by the nature of the order. A Christmas story, in the proper sense, should be the ebullition of some mind anxious to instil others with a desire for Christmas religious thought or Christmas festivities,--,better yet, with Christmas charity. Such was the case with Dickens when he wrote his two first Christmas stories [which were?]. But since that the things written annually--all of which have been fixed to Christmas like children's toys to a Christmas tree, have no real savour of Christmas about them. I had done two or three before. Alas! at this very moment I have one to write [said by Julian Thompson to have been "Christmas at Thompson Hall"], which I have promised to supply within three weeks of this time,--- the picture-makers always required a long interval,--as to which I have in vain been cudgelling my brain for the last month. I can't send away the order to another shop, but I do not know how I shall ever get the coffin made.

What Trollope seems to object to is the phoniness of pretending to emotion you do not feel. If you really feel it, he will dramatise this sympathetically, but he only believes people really feel it in quiet moments. I see this in his Christmas stories, 'The Mistletoe Bough' and 'Not If I Know It'.

However, what most people remember about Trollope's depiction of Christmas is the disillusion. InOrley Farm, 3 of the 4 Christmases are not idealized; two are very unpleasant; the imbibing of liquor makes the 3rd palatable (it seems to be to descend from Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities, the background for Pickwick Papers); in Can You Forgive Her? Christmas at Westmoreland is a sad affair, and Geroge Vavasour and Scruby do their vile business on Christmas. Yet part of the superb quality of "Christmas at Thompson Hall" comes from the need to go home to Christmas dinner, the use of the cold season, the dark. Trollope sees Christmas as a season, realistically and naturalistically.

Having said all that, he wrote some superb stories, as did the other Victorians. "Christmas at Thompson Hall" is as good as Dickens's A Christmas Carol if at once far less celebratory and bleak. Here is a full list of Christmas stories by Trollope::

The Mistletoe Bough,

The Widow's Mite

The Two Generals,

Christmas Day at Kirkby Cottage

Christmas at Thompson Hall,

The Telegraph Girl

Catherine Carmichael; or Three Years Running

Not If I Know It

What's interesting about the above is only the first four named center on Christmas as such. The others have an ethical moral about charity and kindness which Trollope thought appropriate for Christmas but are not about Christmas except insofar as the next two have scenes in winter, and 'Catherine Carmichael' picks Christmas as the time for the dramatic events of a story which occurs over several years. 'The Telegraph Girl' has a touching close which seems not meretricious at all; 'The Two Heroines of Plumpington' is a very late Barsetshire piece written for a Christmas number in Cheer.

I don't include Harry Heathcote of Gangoil in the above list as it is a short novella also written for Christmas time, but not about Christmas at all -- as far as I can tell.

I recall last year Tyler contributed a list of Christmas stories by Dickens which were similarly not about Christmas, and have a vague memory that Thackeray also wrote such stories. The titles Dagny cited seemed to be stories clearly focused on Christmas. How these non-Christmas Christmas stories were marketed I don't know.

Ellen Moody

I'd like to add here some more thoughts on the story from a later rereading:

Well, yesterday I reread for probably the tenth time Trollope's "Christmas at Thompson Hall." A great fiction should ever bring forth new ideas and we see more each time. Well, this time I was intensely aware of how Trollope played on bodies. Mrs Mary Brown is a robust sensual woman and when she puts her mustard on Mr Jones we feel how she has this physical contact with him which violates him. She is afraid to take it off lest she wake him and bring forth from him an equally intensely physical response. Her terror on the stairs and the intense reluctance with which she undertakes her journey and her anguished anxiety also comes from fear of bodily harm. Throughout we are told how she's a lady and keeps the waiter and others at a distance.

It's also emphasized how Mr Brown is sickly and weak. Hitherto I saw this element as part of the complex which makes him not want to go home for Xmas. He is a failure in the worldly sense. He lives off his wife's income and has no fame or money or work of his own. They live in Pau, alone pretty well. All his wife's relatives are by contrast successful, and the man these travellers, businessmen, in Parliament and so on. Mr Brown's weak body though is also part of a contrast with the wife. A curious sexual subtext emerges and connects to another theme I had not seen before:

She gets into trouble because she's an inveterate liar -- fibber Trollope calls her. When in trouble, lie about it; but as in the old adage, one lie begets another and before you know it she can't get near the truth which would help because it's mortifying to admit she's been lying. Well her lying about her night's activities connects to the lie she lives with her husband. He pretends to be ill when he is just weak in body and in retreat and she pretends to believe him. But now her family has demanded they return for Xmas or they will not be considered part of the family. The husband again says he's too sick so she had to pretend and in pretending has to play these games which includes putting a mustard on his neck. When she puts the mustard on the wrong man's neck in bed we are told she is partly getting back, taking revenge, for she knows he's a liar too. He's not that sick at all.

They have no children, and we are not to take it they don't have sex, but rather it's part of his weakness and her complying with him.

As I say in the URL postings, this is another of Trollope's anti-Christmas stories where the comedy comes out of the attempt at an unreal ideal cheer.

I labelled this posting "stories." As we all know Trollope has a number of Christmas sequences in his various novels (more on this in a minute), and Christmas was _de rigeuer_ for the Victorian novelist to write about around Xmas. One resort was to write ghost stories -- which Margaret Oliphant and Dickens did.

Well last night I tried the film version of "A Christmas Carol" with George C. Scott last night and found it just doesn't work. The parts where the movie closely imitated the 1950s film with Alistair Sim were the parts that came alive; in the last part where Scrooge has been transformed, Scott didn't know what to do and simply started to imitate Sim for a while almost as if he couldn't know what to make of the part. This newer film made explicit what the earlier film had left implicit as an argument on behalf of Christmas cheer being real and that (for me) made it impossible or irritating. After a while I began to root for Scrooge as at least not priggishly unreal and asserting what is clearly not so the way the Cratchetts in this film version seemed to me to do.

So next year I'll return to Alistair Sim where the movie still does cheer and move me. The film company half a century ago managed to present the fairy tale tactfully.


From: "Howard Merkin"

I have accordingly decided to abandon the Trollope Christmas Stories that I have just started. I am not particularly sorry about this, because they have never grabbed me. They read like bread and butter works, and you cannot imagine Trollope going on long walks in the country while he worked out the plot. What I have read were 'Christmas at Thompson Hall' and 'Christmas Day at Kirkby Cottage'. The first is a contrived story about a woman getting lost in a French hotel, and applying a mustard plaster to the throat of a complete stranger, instead of to her husband's. She rushes away without saying anything, but leaves a telltale handkerchief, with her name sewn on it, so that she is discovered. Her husband has to make an apology, which is only grudgingly accepted. They then set off for the family home at Thompson Hall to celebrate Christmas, and are surprised to find that the stranger appears to be following the same route. They, but not the reader, are astonished to learn that the unfortunate man is engaged to marry the woman's sister, and we are supposed to believe that everyone celebrates Christmas happily ...

Finally in Christmas time 2000 I proposed we read a group of Trollope's short stories and once again discussed the two paired Christmas stories:

Re: Short Stories: "Christmas Day at Kirby Cottage" and "Christmas at Thompson Hall"

I'd like to suggest there is an idea or maybe an avoidance that unites the above two stories with several of Trollope's other Christmas stories, e.g., "A Widow's Mite," "Two Generals," "The Telegraph Girl," Catherine Carmichael," and even "The Mistletoe Bough"--it is that a good deal of Christmas is humbug and phony and, therefore, as the young man says in the opening of "Kirby Cottage," a bore. Trollope's dislike of the "job" of writing Christmas stories as meretricious as stated so firmly in his Autobiography is well-known as is his comparison of the writing of these to someone running a funeral--both undertaker and the man paid to get up Christmas cheer are engaged in a good deal of cant. What I didn't know which Victoria Glendinning (and T.H.S. Escott) repeat several times is how Trollope himself had a way of getting sick on Christmas and avoiding the "festivities." As Archer says, he does not dislike that which is involved in the religious observance or those who feel something religious--and this is testified to in the last story Trollope wrote, a Christmas one which takes place on the night before and a morning walk to church. What he dislikes is the working up of the feeling that somehow something specially happy is happening. Isabel herself (we are told) each Christmas "from year to year" is somewhat "disappointed," but still hopes on. But then she's very young.

The way Trollope deals with this is to not dwell on the festivities at all. Five of his stories don't show us the festivities at all; the two that do, "The Mistletoe Bough" and "Christmas at Kirby Cottage" are more about attitudes towards Christmas than a celebration of it. They concentrate on other things happening around or leading up to or after the "happy" time which is not itself much dramatized. Trollope does try for a genuine Christian message of charity but he does not do it through any Dingley Dells, rather it's through a realistic story which happens to occur on Christmas day--or several Christmas days in a row. He also reminds me of the Gawain poet in his use of the bleak wintry landscape in some, and snow on evergreen in others. He has a feel for nature.

Ellen Moody

Here is a recent addendum:

December 24, 2002

Re: Happy Christmas

I thought I'd recommend one of Trollope's very great comic short stories: "Christmas at Thompson Hall." We read it together on this list more than once and those interested in information about the story and what was said can find all about it at:

One of the best things about "Christmas at Thompson Hall" is how little of it takes place there. On the website John Mize makes the comment: "I much preferred 'Christmas at Thompson Hall' where Trollope solved the Christmas story problem by essentially omitting Christmas."

In my area I am told some version of Dickens's A Christmas Carol is playing at 5 or 6 theatres and it is probably all over the TV in its modern variants. I have had a sudden thought about what's wrong with this story: it's in the the equivalent of Thompson Hall: the pictures of the Cratchit family and what's implied about the others. They are falsifying. This comes to me from a flop here in DC called "The Crummles's Christmas." Don't even ask. It's recommended that you not imagine it. Dickens's Christmas Carol fable is rather centered on a man who is excluded, and who the reader is encouraged to see as miserable because he's excluded, and whose fault it is that he is excluded. Well almost his fault: the narrative provides us with a long history to explain how this has come about -- rooted in the cruelties of his childhood, the hardness of the commercial world in which he succeeded because he was harder and meaner and more ruthless than everyone else. The moral lesson about exclusion is the one often focused on and it may be the implied reader is to blame Scrooge. I cannot say for sure. The fable itself has a hard truth about the punishment of non-conformity. This is, however, as I say, obscured in the falsifying pictures of what Scrooge is excluded from.

There have been attempts in recent years to replace the ubiquity of the Scrooge story (so often debased in the silly modernizing variants too), but no one has succeeded. What is its attraction? Could it be this fable about the excluded and the demand it makes on all? Or is it in the falsifying pictures? When I consider that they are falsifying the story becomes salutary in a curious way.

Still I recommend "Christmas at Thompson Hall" as far truer to life and a good strengthener, something I know I always need to get through.


Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated: 11 January 2003