Disability as Narrative Prosthesis in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol

Document Type : Original Article

Authors

1 Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Persian Literature and Foreign Languages, University of Mazandaran, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Persian Literature and Foreign Languages, University of Mazandaran, Iran.

10.34785/J014.2023.001

Abstract

Disability was a ubiquitous image in the fiction of the nineteenth century, an age which witnessed controversial discussions regarding the questions of normalcy and deviance. Considered by many as the most famous writer of the period, Charles Dickens also widely employed disabled characters in his novels. One of the most memorable of these characters is Tiny Tim, a disabled child in Dickens’s novella A Christmas Carol, whose pathetic condition greatly moves Scrooge, the narrative’s notorious protagonist, facilitating and expediting his spiritual transformation. This paper aims to analyze the character of Tiny Tim and his influence on the main character in the light of the theory of narrative prosthesis. Introduced by disability critics David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder, the theory holds that disabled characters have served as prosthetic devices in many narratives; that is, they have not been appreciated, described, and understood for who they are as physically / mentally different people. Rather, they have only functioned as metaphors and symbols that have been constructed to convey a moral message to “normal” characters and readers. Research findings show that Tiny Tim exemplifies narrative prosthesis as his short presence in the work only reinforces the ableist discourse of the novella.

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  • Receive Date: 19 December 2021
  • Revise Date: 08 March 2022
  • Accept Date: 04 January 2023
  • First Publish Date: 04 January 2023