- The Cricket on the Hearth
The Cricket on the Hearth
Frontispiece of second edition, 1846
Author(s) Charles Dickens Illustrator Daniel Maclise
Country United Kingdom Language English Genre(s) Novella Publisher Bradbury and Evans Publication date 20 December 1845 Media type Preceded by The Chimes Followed by The Battle of Life
The Cricket on the Hearth. A Fairy Tale of Home is a novella by Charles Dickens, published by Bradbury and Evans, and released 20 December 1845 with illustrations by Daniel Maclise, John Leech, Richard Doyle, Clarkson Stanfield and Edwin Henry Landseer. Dickens began writing the book around 17 October 1845 and finished it by 1 December. Like all of Dickens' Christmas books, it was published in book form, not as a serial.  Dickens described the novel as "quiet and domestic [...] innocent and pretty." It is subdivided into chapters called "Chirps", similar to the "Quarters" of The Chimes or the "Staves" of A Christmas Carol. It is the third of Dickens's five Christmas books, the others being A Christmas Carol (1843), The Chimes (1844), The Battle of Life (1846), and The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain (1848).
In July 1845, Dickens contemplated forming a periodical focusing on the concerns of the home called The Cricket but the plan fell through, and he transformed his idea into a Christmas book in which he abandoned social criticism, current events, and topical themes in favour of simple fantasy and a domestic setting for his hero's redemption. The book was released on 20 December 1845 (the title page read "1846") and sold briskly into the New Year. Seventeen stage productions opened during the Christmas season 1845 with one production receiving Dickens's approval and opening on the same day as the book's release. Dickens read the tale four times in public performance. It has been dramatized in numerous languages and for years was more popular on stage than "A Christmas Carol." Vladimir Lenin publicly walked out of a performance of the "Cricket" play in the Soviet Union, calling it too sentimental, but it is less explicitly Christian than some of Dickens' other Christmas books. Cricket has been criticized for its sentimentality but contemporary readers were attracted to its depiction of the Victorian ideal of the happy home.
John Peerybingle, a carrier, lives with his young wife Dot, their baby, their nanny Tilly Slowboy, and a mysterious old stranger with a long white beard. A cricket constantly chirps on the hearth and acts as a guardian angel to the family, at one point assuming a human voice to warn John that his suspicions that Dot is having an affair with the mysterious lodger are wrong.
The life of the Peerybingles frequently intersects with that of Caleb Plummer, a poor toymaker employed by the miser Mr. Tackleton. Caleb has a blind daughter Bertha, and a son Edward, who traveled to South America and was thought dead. The miser Tackleton is now on the eve of marrying Edward's sweetheart, May, but she does not love Tackleton.
In the end, the mysterious lodger is revealed to be none other than Edward who has returned home in disguise. He marries May hours before she is scheduled to marry Tackleton. However Tackleton's heart is melted by the Christmas season, like Ebenezer Scrooge, and he surrenders May to her true love.
- John Peerybingle, a carrier; a lumbering, slow, honest man
- Mrs. Mary Peerybingle, ("Dot"), John Peerybingle's wife
- Caleb Plummer, a poor old toymaker in the employ of Tackleton
- Bertha Plummer, the blind daughter of Caleb Plummer
- Edward Plummer, the son of Caleb Plummer
- Tackleton, (called "Gruff and Tackleton"), a stern, ill-natured, sarcastic toy merchant
- May Fielding, a friend to Mrs. Peerybingle
- Mrs. Fielding, her mother; a little, peevish, querulous old lady
- Tilly Slowboy, a great clumsy girl; Mrs. Peerybingle's nursemaid
Literary significance and criticism
The book was a huge commercial success, quickly going through two editions, and outselling its two Christmas predecessors, Carol and Chimes. Reviews were favourable, but not all so. The Times of 27 December 1845 opined, "We owe it to literature to protest against this last production of Mr. Dickens [...] Shades of Fielding and Scott! Is it for such jargon as this that we have given your throne to one who cannot estimate his eminence?" However, William Makepeace Thackeray enjoyed the book immensely: "To us, it appears it is a good Christmas book, illuminated with extra gas, crammed with extra bonbons, French plums and sweetness [...] This story is no more a real story than Peerybingle is a real name!"
Dickens portrayal of the blind girl Bertha is significant. Victorians believed disabilities were inherited, and thus it was not socially acceptable for the blind to marry (although they often did in reality). In fiction courtship plots, the blind were often used to build tension since it was assumed they must be kept from marrying. The fictional portrayal of Bertha is similar to Dickens' description in American Notes (1842) of the deaf and blind girl Laura Bridgman, whom he saw on a visit to the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston, Massachusetts.
Modern scholars have given the story little attention, but Andrew Sangers has argued it contains similarities to Shakespeare's comedies and should be seen "both as a significant indication of the tastes of the 1840s and of Dickens himself."
The identity of the narrator is left to the reader, though possibilities include Bertha Plummer, the blind daughter of Caleb Plummer, and the baby, fully grown and returned to his childhood home. The narration is decidedly masculine, lending more credit to the latter.
Stage adaptations include the successful The Cricket on the Hearth by Albert Richard Smith produced at the Surrey Theatre in 1845, and Dion Boucicault's Dot, A Drama in Three Acts (or simply Dot), first performed at New York's Winter Garden in 1859. It was staged repeatedly in Britain and America for the remainder of the 19th century starring at times John Toole, Henry Irving, Jean Davenport. The play helped launch the career of American actor Joseph Jefferson (1829–1905).
The novella was the basis for at least two operas: Karl Goldmark's Das Heimchem am Herd with a libretto by A. M. Willner (premiere: June 1896, Berlin; New York 1910), and Riccardo Zandonai's Il grillo del focolare with a libretto by Cesare Hanau (premiere: November 1908, Turin). Goldmark's opera was performed in Philadelphia in November 1912 with the Cricket sung by American soprano Mabel Riegelman (1889, Cincinnati – 1967, Burlingame, California).
Film, radio, and television adaptations include three American silent film versions: one, directed by D.W. Griffith (1909) starring Owen Moore, another directed by L. Marston (1914) starring Alan Hale, and one directed by Lorimer Johnston (1923). A silent Russian version, Sverchok na Pechi (1915) was directed by Boris Sushkevich and Aleksandr Uralsky and starred Maria Ouspenskaya. A silent French version, Le Grillon du Foyer (1922), was directed and adapted by Jean Manoussi and starred Charles Boyer as Edouard. A 25-minute NBC radio play adaptation aired on December 24, 1945. On television, a 50-minute 1967 Rankin-Bass animated adaptation featured the voices of Roddy MacDowall as the Cricket, and father and daughter Danny Thomas and Marlo Thomas as Caleb and Bertha.
- ^ Kitton, Frederic G. (1900). The Minor Writings of Charles Dickens. London: Elliot Stock. p. 48.
- ^ a b c d Schlicke, Paul (1999). Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-866253-X.
- ^ Dickens, Charles; Glancy, Ruth (Ed.) (1988). Christmas Books. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. xv-xvi. ISBN 0-19-283435-5.
- ^ Guida, Fred (2000). 'A Christmas Carol' and Its Adaptations: A Critical Examination of Dickens's Story and Its Productions on Screen and Television. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. pp. 41–2. ISBN 0-7864-0738-7.
- ^ a b c Holmes, Martha Stoddard. Dickens, Charles: The Cricket on the Hearth. Web page sourced from Christmas Books (The New Oxford Illustrated Dickens) (1954)
- ^ http://www.rjspindle.com/content/cricket-hearth-fairy-tale-home-charles-dickens Full Length Commentary on The Cricket on the Hearth
- ^ McSpadden, J. Walker (1921). Opera Synopses: A Guide to the Plots and Characters of the Standard Operas. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company. p. 100.
- ^ Hill, Edward Burlingame (Ed.); Newman, Ernest (Ed.) (1915). The Art of Music: Volume Three; Modern Music Being Book Three of A Narrative History of Music. New York: The National Society of Music. pp. 241–2,380.
- ^ Glavin, John (2003). Dickens on Screen. Cambridge University Press. p. 208. ISBN 0-521-80652-6.
- ^ "The Cricket on the Hearth: Dickens's Other Christmas Story". http://www.archive.org/details/otr_cricketonthehearth. Retrieved 2009-12-24.
- ^ Hischak, Thomas S. (2008). The Oxford Companion to the American Musical: Theatre, Film, and Television. Oxford University Press. p. 609. ISBN 0-978-19-533533-0.
- The Cricket on the Hearth at Internet Archive.
- The Cricket on the Hearth at Project Gutenberg
- The Cricket on the Hearth at Dickens Literature
- The Cricket on the Hearth at The University of Adelaide Library
- The Cricket on the Hearth audibook by LibriVox
Works by Charles Dickens NovelsThe Pickwick Papers (1836–1837) · Oliver Twist (1837–1839) · Nicholas Nickleby (1838–1839) · The Old Curiosity Shop (1840–1841) · Barnaby Rudge (1840–1841) · Martin Chuzzlewit (1843–1844) · Dombey and Son (1846–1848) · David Copperfield (1849–1850) · Bleak House (1852–1853) · Hard Times (1854) · Little Dorrit (1855–1857) · A Tale of Two Cities (1859) · Great Expectations (1860–1861) · Our Mutual Friend (1864–1865) · The Mystery of Edwin Drood (unfinished) (1870) Christmas books Short storiesSunday Under Three Heads (1836) · The Lamplighter (1838) · A Child's Dream of a Star (1850) · Captain Murderer · The Long Voyage (1853) · The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices (1857) (with Wilkie Collins) · Hunted Down (1859) · The Signal-Man (1866) · George Silverman's Explanation (1868) · Holiday Romance (1868) Christmas
short storiesA Christmas Tree (1850) · What Christmas is, as We Grow Older (1851) · The Poor Relation's Story (1852) · The Child's Story (1852) · The Schoolboy's Story (1853) · Nobody's Story (1853) · Going into Society (1858) · Somebody's Luggage (1862) · Mrs Lirriper's Lodgings (1863) · Mrs Lirriper's Legacy (1864) · Doctor Marigold's Prescriptions (1865)
Non-fiction Poetry & plays Journalism CollaborationsHousehold Words: The Seven Poor Travellers (1854) (with Wilkie Collins, Adelaide Proctor, George Sala and Eliza Linton) · The Holly-tree Inn (1855) · (with Wilkie Collins, William Howitt, Harriet Parr, and Adelaide Procter) · The Wreck of the Golden Mary (1856) (with Wilkie Collins, Adelaide Proctor, Harriet Parr, Percy Fitzgerald and Rev. James White) · The Perils of Certain English Prisoners (1857) (with Wilkie Collins) · A House to Let (1858) (with Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell and Adelaide Procter)
All the Year Round: The Haunted House (1859) (with Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, Adelaide Procter, George Sala, and Hesba Stretton) · A Message from the Sea (1860) (with Wilkie Collins, Robert Buchanan, Charles Allston Collins, Amelia Edwards, and Harriet Parr) · Tom Tiddler's Ground (1861) (with Wilkie Collins, John Harwood, Charles Allston Collins, and Amelia Edwards) · The Trial for Murder (1865) (with Charles Allston Collins) · Mugby Junction (1866) (with Andrew Halliday, Charles Allston Collins, Hesba Stretton and Amelia Edwards) · No Thoroughfare (1867) (with Wilkie Collins)
Articles & essaysA Visit to Newgate (1836) · Epitaph of Charles Irving Thornton (1842) · In Memoriam W. M. Thackeray (1850) · A Coal Miner's Evidence (1850) · Frauds on the Fairies (1853) · The Lost Arctic Voyagers (1854) Television
specialsRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer • Return to Oz • The Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy Show • The Ballad of Smokey the Bear • The Cricket on the Hearth • The Mouse on the Mayflower • The Little Drummer Boy • Frosty the Snowman • The Mad, Mad, Mad Comedians • Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town • Here Comes Peter Cottontail • The Enchanted World of Danny Kaye: The Emperor's New Clothes • Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters • Willie Mays and the Say-Hey Kid • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea • Red Baron • That Girl in Wonderland • 'Twas the Night Before Christmas • The Year Without a Santa Claus • The First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas Snow • The First Easter Rabbit • Frosty's Winter Wonderland • Rudolph's Shiny New Year • The Little Drummer Boy, Book II • The Easter Bunny Is Comin' To Town • The Hobbit • Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey • The Stingiest Man in Town • Jack Frost • The Return of the King • Pinocchio's Christmas • The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold •The Coneheads • The Wind in the Willows • The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus • The Flight of Dragons • Santa Baby!
seriesThe New Adventures of Pinocchio • Tales of the Wizard of Oz • The King Kong Show • The Smokey Bear Show • The Tomfoolery Show • The Reluctant Dragon and Mr. Toad Show • The Jackson 5ive Show • The Osmonds • Kid Power • Festival of Family Classics • ThunderCats • SilverHawks • TigerSharks • The Comic Strip
Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol Characters FilmsScrooge, or, Marley's Ghost · A Christmas Carol (1908) · A Christmas Carol (1910) · Scrooge (1913) · Scrooge (1935) · A Christmas Carol (1938) · Scrooge (1951) · It's Never Too Late · Scrooge (1970) · A Christmas Carol (1971) · Mickey's Christmas Carol · Scrooged · The Muppet Christmas Carol · A Christmas Carol (1997) · Christmas Carol: The Movie · A Carol Christmas · Springtime with Roo · Chasing Christmas · A Christmas Carol (2006) · A Dennis the Menace Christmas · Ghosts of Girlfriends Past · A Christmas Carol (2009) TelevisionMister Magoo's Christmas Carol · Carol for Another Christmas · Rich Little's Christmas Carol · A Special Sesame Street Christmas · The Stingiest Man in Town · Bugs Bunny's Christmas Carol · A Christmas Carol (1982) · A Christmas Carol (1984) · Blackadder's Christmas Carol · A Flintstones Christmas Carol · Ebbie · Ebenezer · An All Dogs Christmas Carol · A Christmas Carol (1999) · A Christmas Carol (2000) · An Easter Carol · A Christmas Carol (2004) · Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas · Nan's Christmas Carol · "A Christmas Carol" (Doctor Who) Other
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