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“Purely Mercenary”: A Study Of Capital In It’s A Wonderful Life

858 words - 4 pages

Although they are staged in two different continents and published nearly one hundred years apart, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and It’s a Wonderful Life are remarkably similar works in plot and purpose. In A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser, is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future on Christmas Eve. These spirits ultimately help Scrooge transform himself from a stingy, unwelcoming person into a more charitable and pleasant man. Ultimately, Scrooge’s transformation implores its reader to empathize with the poor working class of Victorian society. Similarly to Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, George Bailey is visited by Clarence Angel Second Class on ...view middle of the document...

Although marked by an unprecedented grandeur, America’s comfortable economic state in the twenties was sustained by a relaxed government and “banking procedures that offered good terms to borrowers but little protection for investors” ("Roaring Twenties: 1919–29"). Ultimately, these two seemingly harmless factors proved unable to sustain such a grandiose economy, causing the United States to slip into an era of depression, with the Stock Market Crash of 1929 at the helm.
George Bailey’s struggle to persevere and succeed with his humble business in light of his callous, monopolizing competition parallels the issues plaguing the American working class in the Great Depression era. George’s idyllic night with Mary in 1928 is disturbed when George gets a phone call informing him that his father had a fatal stroke and passed away. Though George intends to attend college and travel the world, he sacrifices his ambitions to take over the Bailey Building and Loan Association, the family business which avaricious landlord Henry Potter attempts to dissolve in the wake of Pop Bailey’s death. George and Mary soon get married and set off to New York City for their honeymoon with two thousand dollars in hand; however, their travels are interrupted when they are faced with a run on the bank that threatens the future of the Building and Loan. The turmoil George faces juxtaposes exceptionally with the “unprecedented upheaval felt in the [American] banking sector during the early 1930s” (Calomiris 5). Globally acclaimed financial historian Charles Calomiris asserts that the “panics of the Depression [were] more severe...

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