It is an interesting phenomenon to observe a person’s name becoming a generic description. Take, for example, Shylock, who features in an earlier post on this blog. The name, with a lower-case initial, is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “an extortionate usurer … an abusive term for a moneylender”. Another – perhaps even more famous, and certainly seasonal – example is provided by Scrooge, the anti-hero in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Of this name, the OED says that it is used “to designate a miserly, tight-fisted person or killjoy” (here‘s an example from yesterday’s Irish Times).
This is all by way of introducing a post by Keith Rowley on ContractsProf Blog entitled Ebenezer Scrooge on Contract Formation. He sets out a conversation from the screenplay of a movie version of the story which does not seem to appear in the book. This is neither the first nor the only time that screenplays have taken liberties with this book, my favourite movie version certainly does. In this case, the conversation is added to illustrate Scrooge’s heartlessness at the beginning of the story (before his conversion to the spirt of Christmas at the end of the book). However, as Rowley puts it, the conversation also rather neatly illustrates “the then-prevailing common law rule that an offer made in a face-to-face conversation expires at the end of the conversation unless the offeror indicates otherwise”. Read all about it here.