Stories for Christmas
"The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairytale of Home" (written 1845)
Book Published 1862
At some point in many civilizations and cultures, it was believed that a cricket on the hearth symbolized good luck and health. It is strange to me to think it acceptable to have a cricket anywhere in the home; once even my husband went out in the middle of the night, armed with a flashlight and a can of Raid, to eradicate a noisy little cricket bellowing under the patio outside our bedroom window.
Nonetheless, in this novella, by Charles Dickens, the cricket on the hearth is the sacred protector of marriages, families, and homes. Without giving away too much of the plot, I will do my best, but there are some things I have to expose. The story is about a couple, John and his much younger wife, Mary. They have a little baby, but that is irrelevant.
I was a little confused at first because a strange man (in a disguise, it is later revealed) came to stay with the couple for a few days, and during that time Mary showed him some affections. John witnessed those affections, causing him such grief and irritated further by another character, Tackleton, who told John that his wife was having an affair with the man.
John reacted in an unexpected way when he considered releasing his wife from her marriage contract. He loved her sooooooo much; he could not bear to think that he was the cause of her unhappiness, forcing her to secretly seek out the object of her love. He thought he married her too young when she really did not love him after all. He rather see her free and happy.
In the meantime, Tackleton was set to marry a much younger woman in a few days. But the plot took a twist after the stranger's true identity was revealed, upsetting Tackleton's selfish wedding plans and ultimately resolving the misunderstanding between John and Mary. It was a very merry and joyful ending for all, even for Tackleton, just like in Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
I found this tale very sweet and enjoyable. And while Dickens twists my comprehension skills in little knots at the beginning of every story, he certainly knows how to resolve all of my confusions in the end.
|"Listen to the cricket." source|