Language (dis)ability and representation in popular culture

Tiny Tim from the Charles Dickens novel ‘ A Christmas Carol’ displays an example of a trope of the savant. At first glance he may appear vulnerable and perhaps a drain on the Cratchit family, however after meeting him you realise he obtains the gifts of being pure and kind.

This is a positive representation of disability. Throughout the novel, even when Mr Scrooge is being dire to Bob and his family, Tiny Tim remains positive and optimistic; he blesses and prays for Scrooge even when his own mother despises the idea. Social norms teach us that parents are mature, more so than their children and overlook certain behaviour to be good role models to their children but here Tim displays the maturity, much so beyond his age. Even his older siblings disregard Scrooge by simply remaining ignorant to the matter.

Not only does Tim’s actions make people with disabilities feel proud, they also make people who don’t have disabilities think about their actions. It is so easy in life to disregard morals, especially forgiveness because someone has hurt us, however Tim teaches us to have more passion and be more willing to forgive. Holding a grudge only hurts the person who holds it, through forgiving and forgetting their wrong-doing, you are able to be set free of all those emotions. This is a difficult quality to practice, especially involving family because no love can match the love for your family but even at Tim’s young age he is able to forgive.

Contrasted to the character Scrooge; an old, bitter, mean, ruthless and unloving man, this only makes our fondness for Tim grow. The fact Scrooge has been successful in work and had the choice to be successful in love shows that no matter the material items you have, you won’t necessarily be happy. Look at Tim’s contrast to Scrooge: One of six children; Scrooge has none, barely able to feed himself; Scrooge has plenty, surplus even, Tim has a life threatening disability; Scrooge is in good health… the list is endless. It shows how having love and choosing this over material items is the only way you’ll be happy. I accept having material items can numb being unhappy but this is simply a short term fix. The real task in life is placing love above material items, however people feel this is difficult to do because they may be gambling everything, whereas staying in the confines of material items ensures that they won’t be hurt. I believe this allows me to then go on and also suggest that it is because Tim has nothing to lose. He is aware his disability and until Scrooge has a change of heart, he will die. This perhaps makes him want to do more good and able to forgive.

I don’t want to seem patronising suggesting it is unheard of someone with a disability being a saviour because I’m not implying that. I’m simply saying that Tim, who has a life threatening disability and would be justified to hate the world and focus solely on himself, not only is positive but puts other people’s happiness before his own, people undeserving of happiness and goes as far to forgive them and even bless them when they have done nothing but ruin his family.

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