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Spectacular Sympathy: Visuality and Ideology in Dickens's A Christmas Carol

Audrey Jaffe
PMLA
Vol. 109, No. 2 (Mar., 1994), pp. 254-265
DOI: 10.2307/463120
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/463120
Page Count: 12
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Spectacular Sympathy: Visuality and Ideology in Dickens's A Christmas Carol
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Abstract

Dickens's A Christmas Carol exemplifies the literary and cinematic use of visual representation to reinforce ideological values in Western culture. The story positions Scrooge and its readers as spectators of a series of culturally valorized scenes; access to the spectator's idealized self depends on the ability to perceive and desire (to identify and identify with) the values embedded in those scenes. Scrooge saves his life by recovering what the story posits as his natural ability to identify with representations, an ability that characterizes both his ideal, sympathetic self and the ideal subject of commodity culture.

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