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Robert’s Formal Post on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”

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We do not typically think of “endearing” Tiny Tim as a cyborg. This, however, makes for an interesting and thought provoking comparison. In “Disability in Theory: From Social Constructionism to the New Realism of the New Body,”  Tobin Siebers quotes Donna Harroway’s definition of cyborgs as “a hybrid of machine and organism” (178). Siebers argues that Harroway’s theory means “our cyborgs are people with disabilities” (178). Tiny Tim’s “active little crutch” (58), limb “in an iron cage”, and his father’s substitution as “Tim’s blood horse” (57) are useful tools that create what Harroway calls “power charged communication” (178). In A Christmas Carol, the “power charged communication” rests almost solely within Tiny Tim and his disability and his/its effect on the miserly Scrooge. Tiny Tim provides a moral conviction for Scrooge, one that ultimately brings about a change of heart in the frigid and miserable man.

Without his disability – or, more specifically, the prosthetic devices involved – Tiny Tim would have no “power charged communication” to affect Scrooge’s black heart. If Tiny Tim and his disability had not affected Scrooge so deeply, then Scrooge would not have “hung his head to hear his own words [about decreasing the surplus population] quoted by the Spirit” or have been “overcome with penitence and grief” (60). Without the hybridization of host and machine – in this case, Tiny Tim and his crutch(es) –Scrooge would have been doomed to an eternity in chains, Tiny Tim’s crutch would have set motionless by the wall, the Cratchits would not have gotten their Christmas Turkey, and we would have been left with no warm and fuzzy Christmas story.

Written by Robert

September 21st, 2010 at 11:11 pm