So, The Grinch and Ebonezer Scrooge are two classic anti heroes in Christmas stories. Arguably, despite the film adaptation of How The Grinch Stole Christmas really gives a back story and personality to The Grinch, it focuses too much on Cindy Lou Who. But, they’re both villains who reform to having Christmas spirit. But why does nobody view them in this way? If you hear “We have a Christmas Scrooge!” It doesn’t mean someone who is generous, despite what happens. It’s the same with the Grinch, only the Whos are extremely snobbish, stuck up and materialistic. So taking away their presents helps them achieve enlightenment in a way, which should make The Grinch Buddha.
Scrooge starts off as a typical greedy, bourgeois Victorian banker. He is only interested in business, and views humans as customers and transactions, not people. Everyone around hates him because he shows no empathy for others and is asocial. His business partner, Jacob Marley, was very much the same person, but has suffered in purgatory due to his selfish and unkind actions. Marley visits Scrooge to warn him about being visited by three spirits.
In the first part, we see how Scrooge came to be so bitter and cold. The novel mentions, which many film version do not, how Scrooge’s father was cold and distant towards him, and so was cast away at boarding school. This influence dictated what Scrooge saw as important, but even as a young lad he was not callous. Scrooge’s nastiness first truly manifests itself when Belle breaks his heart by leaving him. Belle believes Scrooge does not care about her, and had not previously confronted Scrooge. Feeling criticised, Scrooge defends himself. His apparent failure to apologise is the final straw, and had he simply re-prioritised Belle, he wouldn’t be as unpleasant and miserable.
About The Grinch:
I’m going off the film adaptation here. The Grinch, played by Jim Carrey, was raised by two elderly ladies in a small town, taking him in as an orphan. Bullied at school, Martha May takes a liking to The Grinch from a distance. After trying to give her gift and impress her by shaving his beard, the other students mock him. The Grinch decides he hates Christmas, and humanity, before retiring to a cave (occasionally terrorising the Whos). In his spare time, The Grinch comes up with pranks and projects to keep himself occupied. Because The Grinch refuses to open up about his past, we hear this information second hand.
The Grinch is introduced to the audience after saving Cindy Lou from a wrapping machine in the post office (albeit prompted by Max). This is the first good thing we see him do. Hoping to renew his image, Cindy Lou manages to bring the Grinch to Whoville to be crowned as Cheermeister. However, The Mayor’s jealousy prompts him to humiliate the The Grinch by not only proposing to Martha with a car as a bribe, but give the The Grinch a shave. The Grinch, envious of Martha’s affections and filled with rage, criticises the Whos for being so shallow. And rightly so, since Martha is bedazzled by a glamourous ring and fancy car. Even though his good deeds ar motivated by rewards, a sense of revenge of fear of being discovered, The Grinch is easily persuaded into doing good things.
Until the end of the film, where The Grinch tries to steal Christmas, but fails. After seeing how happy the Whos are to be together, The Grinch sees why he hated Christmas. It had nothing to do with the gift he tried to give, but the way he was treated and eventually outcast. After confronting the Whos, the Whos themselves finally learn something about themselves, about how the Mayor manipulated them. Seeing the The Grinch is a hero, Martha finally confesses her true feelings for The Grinch.
So, what do we like about these characters?
- The grinch is played by Jim Carrey, so he’s really more comical than villainous
- Society in the film is quite materialistic, and a bit obsessed with Christmas tradition.
- The Grinch seems to face some discrimination based on his skin colour and species.
- The Whos are a bit too happy. In fact, when Cindy Lou expresses her sadness, she’s shamed
- The grinch is witty, smart, fun loving and dramatic. All makes for a great antagonist.
Conclusion: secretly, we like the grinch
Scrooge: (a much more difficult character to defend)
- Well, he’s self made and successful. Which seems to just be an annoyance in itself.
- Scrooge doesn’t appear to show any petty behaviour. If he’s mean, it’s usually to people’s faces. Nobody saw Scrooge cursing the townspeople as lowly peasants.
- Scrooge is (probably) just an introvert. Or perhaps he is autistic, I don’t know.
- He’s fearful of a higher force, instead of arrogant.
Conclusion: Scrooge is definitely more of a villain and much harder to like.
The killer question: do these characters have a point?
Okay, so when you are young, Christmas is fun. It’s all about presents, fuzzy films, family and relatives, friends. But when you are an adult, Christmas brings new challenges; flings under the mistletoe, heartbreak and exes, work, alcohol , gift buying and money. Sure, we still enjoy classic Christmas tunes, work parties, mulled wine, dinner with the family and corny Christmas crackers. But Christmas is so well preserved in rose tinted glasses, shoved down our necks by the media, that it just seems like the perfect Christmas is a scene on a greetings card. All of which the grinch does so effectively. The trick to having a nice Christmas is just being grateful for what you have.