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Hosted by Khatam University;

"The Christmas Carol": A Work About Injustice and Redemption/ "Dickens" Characters are Dynamic and Creative

Published: Friday, February 16, 2024

The session "Analyzing the Character Traits of Fictional Heroes: Christmas Carol" was held with the speech of Dr. Anahita Khodabakhshi Kolayi, a faculty member and associate professor of the Psychology department of Khatam University.

According to the public relations and website of Khatam University, the second session of the series of "Psychology and Literature" meetings organized by the Department of Psychology and English Language department of Khatam University and with the topic of "Analyzing the personality traits of fictional heroes: Christmas carol" was held with the speech of Dr. Anahita Khodabakhshi Kolayi, a faculty member and an Associate Professor of Psychology Department of Khatam University on Thursday 22nd of February, 2024 at Khatam University.

 

First, Dr. Hoda Shabarang, a faculty member and an assistant professor of the Department of English at Khatam University, who is in charge of managing this series of meetings, spoke about Charles Dickens, the famous English writer, and his challenging life and said: “Dickens was born in 1812 and died in 1870, and although he lived only 57 years, he left many impressive artworks behind. In fact, he can be considered as a genius writer.”

 

According to Shabrang, what makes Dickens stand out is not only his writing aspect but also his character as a critic and social reformer.

 

Dr. Shabarang then discussed the things that happened to Dickens during his difficult childhood and recalled: “Dickens was the second child among 8 children in the family and the first so. He was sent to prison along with the whole family and later was taken to a wax factory where he felt completely abandoned. All in all, Dickens had a very difficult childhood.”

 

She added: “Charles Dickens later entered the field of writing and was the editor of a weekly magazine for 20 years. He left more than 500 novels and stories, as well as numerous articles, and in these works, we see the images of the children he experienced during his difficult childhood. He is mostly praised for his humorous tone and insight into the characters he created in his stories.”

 

This faculty member of Khatam University added: “The impact of some writers becomes clearer after their death, but in the case of Dickens, it must be said that he was also very influential in his own time, and the images he created of the suffering of children led to new laws being approved by the English Parliament. Besides, a lot of money from charities was spent to establish the first specialized children's hospital in England in 1852.”

 

Dr. Shabarang continued talking about Charles Dickens’s famous novel "Christmas Carol", which was the central theme of the said meeting, and said: "Christmas Carol is a work about social injustice and inequalities as well as human salvation. ‘Scrooge’, the main character of the story is a very mischievous, moody, angry, and of course very stingy man who lives in a faded house with his partner. Once, three ghosts, one from the past, one from the present, and one from the future, came to his dream and the story began from there.”

 

While telling some of these stories that happened in Scroog’s sleep, Shabrang mentioned forgiveness and kindness to others and moral responsibility as the most important axes of the story of "A Christmas Carol". At the end of her speech, she mentioned some successful movies and TV series that were adapted from this novel by Charles Dickens.

 

In the following, Dr. Anahita Khodabakhshi Kolayi, the faculty member and associate professor of Psychology department of Khatam University, who was the main speaker of this meeting, in a speech concerning the theory of personality structure from the famous German psychologist Sigmund Freud and the description of Hoffman; the prominent American literary critic, who touched on it in 1957, addressed the question of why the world of literature took a different course after this theory.

 

She added: “It is after this incident that literary critics slowly focused on popular novels and how the characters were formed. That is because they are not only characters on paper, but the audience of the stories feels that they had a biological experience in a period of time. In fact, the readers consider them as living characters.”

 

Dr. Khodabakhshi then referred to Karen Horney's ideas; the prominent psychologist on the subject of "conflict" and said: “Horney believes that we are constantly in internal conflict with ourselves. We have a domineering personality as well as a conniving personality that manifests in us depending on the situation, time, and place. The intensity of this ‘conflict’ makes us feel bad. All literature contains characters who are in conflict with themselves.”

 

This associate professor of the Department of Psychology at Khatam University then quoted a famous sentence from Anthony Burgess; the author of the famous novel "Orange Cookie", which Stanley Kubrick adapted into a successful movie and stated: “Burgess believed that a novelist should make the characters he creates in his story changeable and on a moral path. Charles Dickens was able to create characters that were dynamic, changeable and creative, and at the end of his stories, he conveyed the message that we all can become good people. That is basically because we, as readers, read literature because of the hope we feel in it.”

 

Referring to the change in the personality dimensions of "Scrooge" at the end of the story "A Christmas Carol" from a bad-tempered and stingy person to a kind and nice person, he discussed the theories of psychologists such as Erik Erickson in explaining these changes in human personality and said: “From the perspective of gerontological psychology, there is a theme called integration versus isolation. This means that many seniors who reach this stage ask themselves the question, "Why am I alive?" And in their behavior and actions, we see the reflection of the answer they are looking for.

 

Dr. Khodabakhshi added: “According to Erikson, we can give meaning to our lives when we become better people, and the only way to fight against disappointment is to be kind to others. Besides, there is a long distance from compassion to kindness. It is not enough to be heartbroken for those who are suffering from social conditions; rather, we should be kind to them. The meaning of Scrooge's life is to help others and make them happy, and at the end of the story, the reader hopes that people can become nice and kind.”

 

This associate professor of the psychology department of Khatam University also mentioned Alan Cumming's and William Henry's ideas about the challenges of old age for this age group and said: “According to them, the elderly sometimes stick to work so much that they take the place of young people and this causes disruption in the system. They (the elderly) do this out of fear of social exclusion and complete isolation from society.”

 

She continued: “For this reason, the elderly define new activities for themselves to avoid this issue. In the case of Scrooge, what happens is that he leaves his work to others and tries to be kind to them. Scientific research conducted on this topic shows that such a process makes the elderly feel better.”

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Christmas Carol
Department of Psychology and Educational Sciences
English Language Department
Khatam University
Psychology and Literature