A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens Childhood
 Charles John Huffman Dickens
 Born February 7, 1812, in England – died June 9,
 Second of Seven children
 Sickly child, read books instead of playing with
other children
 Our background affects us
 Dickens’s fictional work is intertwined with the real
events of his past
 February 1824
 Father, John Dickens, was put in debtor’s prison
 Charles, now twelve, began working at a factory
gluing labels on bottles of shoe blacking
Charles Dickens the Author
 Writing career started at age 15
 Own experiences created a concern for poor and
 Especially children – play a prominent role in many of
his works
 obstacles they face in bringing their desires/dreams to
 Writing helped his countrymen become aware of the
effects of an industrialized society on all people
 Common Motifs:
 Failure and Redemption
 Overcrowded prisons
 Poorly organized schools
 Impoverished street urchins and beggars
A Christmas Carol
 Published 1843
 Dickens completed the novel in a few weeks – began
as a need for money
 Message = keeping the Christmas spirit throughout
the year
 After publication, the Christmas season changed
dramatically in England
 First Christmas card was sold
 Tree decoration
 Celebrating with family feasts
 Uses humor
 Ghost stories were prevalent in England at Christmas
 Centered in London
A Christmas Carol
 Proper roles of money and work in life
 The heartlessness of industrial society broods over
the story as a whole, and is effectively personified in
the person of Scrooge
 Bob Cratchit
 Counterpart to the Scroogian values of selfishness and
money hoarding
 Money, class, and rank are unreliable guidelines for
determining human worth in Dickens’ fictional world
 True merit is often hidden among the rags and
ignorance of the poor and abandoned
 Tiny Tim
 Reminder of youthful potential spoiled by poverty
 Literally trapped in metal parts in a way that summons
pictures of children working endlessly at factory
A Christmas Carol
 While most readers today remember Scrooge, first
readers identified most with the Cratchit family.
 Even in poverty, the winter holiday can inspire good will and
generosity toward one’s neighbors
 Spirit of Christmas can live on in an industrialized world
 Dickens was disillusioned by the greed that
seemed to govern the new commercial interests
(Industrial Revolution)
 Telling ghost stories was an English and American
custom in the 1800s.
 In each, a protagonist with false values is subjected
to extraordinary events, which lead him to see his
errors and be transformed
A Christmas Carol –
Dickens’s England
 Railroads made commuting into the city (financial
heart of England) possible.
 Even poor clerks (Cratchit) began commuting
 East End = poverty, misery, slums
 Atmosphere/environment
 Fog in London was very real – a great yellowness
was everywhere.
 Lamps were lit during the day
 Blamed in part on coal stoves
 The sky would turn black from all of the coal
 Caused deaths
A Christmas Carol –
Dickens’s England
 Horse manure on the ground
 Etiquette book advised gentlemen walk on outside of
pavement to ensure the man walked on the dirtiest part of
the pavement
 Every major street had a crossing sweeper – pay a penny
to have street swept before one crossed
 River Thames = tons of sewage dumped daily
 Cholera epidemics
 Noises
 Horses hooves clacking
 Women’s patent leathers
 Call of muffin man
 Cries of street peddlers selling items such as dolls,
matches, books, knives, pens, rat poison, key rings, eggs,
and china
 Many children
A Christmas Carol –
Dickens’s England
 Poor House
 Prisoners forced to walk on treadmills all day
 Punishment intended to force prisoner/debtor to think
about their crimes
A Christmas Carol –
Dickens’s England
 Food
 Poor man lived on bread
 1864
 Average farm worker ate one hot meal a week because fuel
was expensive
 Cooked over open fire – not many poor people had ovens
 Sundays & Christmas
 Poor took their geese or other meals to local bake house to
get them cooked
 No one knew about vitamins
 Water
 No one drank water because it was feared
 Preferred ale and beer
 Later in century coffee and tea
A Christmas Carol –
Universal Themes
 Scrooge (protagonist) is able to start again
 Represents the heartlessness of industrial society
(which Dickens loathed)
 Dickens believes that he had done the same thing in
his own life
 Themes:
 Gratitude
 Generosity
 Redemption
 Allegory
 a story in which the characters and the action
represent an idea or generalization about life
A Christmas Carol –
Link to today
 Families today struggle with many of the same
conflicts the Victorians faced as they confronted a
new industrial world along with a new sense of family
and less personal role of wage earner conflicted with
that of the nurturing parent. Now both parents must
usually work outside the home to provide. There are
parallels between Victorian England and present-day
American charity as families struggle with
philanthropic versus selfish decisions on just how to
use their hard-earned money. Also, this book
challenges us to examine the consequences of our
actions – which, in our global community, have an
even greater impact than in 1840s.
 It’s about poor choices.
 Joyful memories also bring pain. And through pain,
Preface –
What does it mean?
Stave I
 “ ‘Change” = Royal Exchange; a gathering place for
merchants in different trades
 Stave
 “verse”
 Such as the verses of a Christmas carol
 Foggy, gloomy, cold, dark
 What does the atmosphere remind the reader of?
 Scrooge & Industry
 What phrases does Dickens use to help you “feel”
the weather?
 “Foggier yet, and colder! Piercing, searching, biting
 The young caroler’s nose is “gnawed and mumbled
by the hungry cold.”
Who was Marley?
 Scrooge’s partner
 Why does Dickens make such a point of telling us that
Marley is definitely dead?
 From the Stave title we can tell that Marley’s ghost will
soon appear
 What phrases does Dickens use the let the reader know
Marley was dead?
 “Dead” ; “register of the burial was signed by the clergy”
; “dead as a door-nail”
 What happened to Marley’s belongings?
 Scrooge took control of them.
What does Marley explain about his
 He “forged it in life” by
caring, as Scrooge does,
only about money and by
never taking pity on
those whose miserable
lives he could have
 What is he now
condemned to suffer?
 “incessant torture of
Critical Remark about the
Government by Dickens
 He remarks that the ghosts linked together “might
be guilty governments,”
 Meaning….
 They are guilty of mistreating people just as Marley
and the other ghosts did.
 Called an “Apostrophe” (the author addresses the
reader directly)
Social Inequality of the rich and the
poor – Where in Stave I do we see
 Lord Mayor’s fifty cooks and butlers
 Laborers warming hands over the fire
 Coal and the clerk
 Money collectors and Scrooge
Literary Device - Hook
 Compelling sentence that entices a reader into a
 “MARLEY WAS DEAD: to begin with”
Literary Device – Point of View
 Determined by the person who tells the story
 Author (Dickens) is the narrator
 Third Person
Literary Device - Parallelism
 Repetition of a grammatical pattern, which is used
to emphasize related ideas
 “Merry Christmas! What right have you to be
merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re
poor enough”
“Come, then,” returned the
nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal?
What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich
Literary Device - Foreshadowing
 Giving clues that suggest what may happen later in
the story
 “Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years. He
died seven years ago, this very night”
Literary Device - Simile
 Comparison using “like” or “as”
 “Hard and sharp as flint”
 “solitary as an oyster”
Literary Device - Personification
 Giving human characteristics to nonhuman objects
 “the dying flame leaped up”
Literary Device - Allusion
 A reference to a famous historical, mythological,
religious, or literary person or event
 “designed to illustrate the Scriptures. There were
Cains and Abels; Pharaoh’s daughters, Queens of
Sheba, Angelic messengers descending through
the air on clouds like feather-boats, hundreds of
figures, to attract his thoughts; and yet that face
of Marley, seven years dead, came like the ancient
Prophet’s rod, and swallowed up the whole.”
Literary Device – Simile-cliché
 Comparison using “like” or “as” AND is an overused
 “Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail”
Who said it?
 “Nay, Uncle, but you never came to see me before that
happened. Why give it as a reason for not coming now?”
 “We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others,
when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What
shall I put you down for?”
 PORTLY GENTLEMEN– asking Scrooge for charity
 “It’s not my business,” “It’s enough for a man to
understand his own business, and not to interfere with
other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good
afternoon, gentlemen!”
 “I wear the chain I forged in life”
Stave II
 What has happened to time at the beginning of this
 The clock seems to have run backwards, as it is earlier
now than it was when Scrooge went to bed
The Ghost of Christmas Past
How does the first spirit’s
appearance seem to contradict
Looks both young and old
What is strange about its head?
A jet of light emanates from it – it
holds an extinguisher under its arm
The Spirit’s Advice
 What is significant about -- “Bear but a touch
of my hand there,” said the Spirit, laying it
upon his heart, “and you shall be upheld in
more than this!”
 The Spirit hopes to touch Scrooge’s heart and
the feelings he has kept hidden regarding his
 How do you know?
 When Scrooge looks upon his boyhood scenes,
his lips trembles and he sheds a tear
Little boy = Scrooge
 How does Scrooge change completely as he watches the
 He seems to become a little boy again, sobbing over the
sight of his own lonely self, delighted to see characters
from the books that were once his only comfort
 Note: Dickens himself escaped through literature when
he was a child
 How does Scrooge transfer his feelings about his
boyhood self back to the present?
 He wishes he had been kinder to the boy who came
caroling the day before
Fezziwig VS Scrooge
 How do Fezziwig and Scrooge compare as employers?
 Fezziwig is happy and generous, throws a Christmas
party for all his employees and their friends and seems
to enjoy it.
 He is the exact opposite of the cynical, tight-fisted
Scrooge, who didn’t want to give Cratchit the day off.
 How does Scrooge transfer the memories of Fezziwig to
thoughts of the present day?
 He says he wishes to have a few words with Cratchit
 According to Belle, what is the reason she no longer
wants to marry him?
 She claims he is so caught up in making money that she
has been displaced
 Why does Dickens include so many children in the later
scene at Belle’s home?
 This scene makes Scrooge realize that he has missed out
on having children/grandchildren – he might have been
in the other man’s shoes
 Note: Belle means beautiful in French
The Spirit’s light - Symbolize
 Scrooge tries to hide the light on the
spirit’s head, but cannot. Why?
 The light represents Scrooge’s feelings
about the past, which have now come to
the surface and cannot be extinguished
even if he tries to forget them. He won’t
be able to go back to the way things were
before he met the spirit
 The jet of light = feelings, memory
Literary Analysis – The First Spirit
Scene in the past
 Lonely, neglected boy
 Scrooge’s sister, Fan
 Fezziwig,the generous
 Belle breaking the
 Belle’s happy family
Scrooge’s present
 The boy who came
caroling and was driven
 Scrooge’s nephew, Fred,
determined to be kind
 Cratchit
 Scrooge has missed out on
 Scrooge wishes he had
Literary Device – Dramatic Irony
Reader/audience sees
mistakes/misunderstandings which
the character is unable to see
“The happiness he gives is quite as
great as if it cost a fortune.”
Literary Device – Simile and
Comparisons (Simile uses “like” or
“In came a fiddler with a musicbook, and went up to the lofty desk,
and made an orchestra of it, and
tuned like fifty stomach-aches.
In came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast
substantial smile”
Literary Device -- Flashback
 A flashback occurs when a past event is
interjected into the chronological
sequence of events in a story.
 Scrooge as a boy
 Mr. Fezziwig’s office
 Belle
Who Said it?
 “The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a
 Scrooge – speaking of Fezziwig
 “The school is not quite deserted,” said ___. “A solitary
child, neglected by his friends, is left there still.”
 Ghost of Christmas Past
 “I release you. With a full heart, for the love of him you
once were.”
 Belle
Who said it?
 “Yo ho my boys! No more work tonight…Let’s have
shutters up, before a man can say Jack Robinson!”
 Fezziwig
 “I have come to bring you home…home,home,home!”
 Fan
 “What! Would you so soon put out, with wordly hands,
the light I give? Is it not enough that you are one of
those whose passions made this cap, and force me
through whole trains of years to wear it low upon my
 Ghost of Christmas Past
Stave III
The Second of the Three Spirits
The arrival of the Second Spirit
 What is one thing Scrooge is not prepared for as he
wakes up the second time?
 He is prepared for anything except nothing
 How does Scrooge treat the second spirit differently
from the first one?
 He bows his head, is reluctant to look at it at all, and
when he does he looks “reverently.” He asks the spirit to
teach him his lesson “submissively”
The arrival of the Second Spirit
 What is the personality of this spirit?
 Jolly, joyful, animated
 Why does it wear a rusty sheath with no sword?
 The swordless sheath symbolizes peace, love, forgiveness
 What happens to the spirit as the night wears on? Why?
 It gets older and older because it is a ghost of the present,
of Christmas Day only, which also must end.
 In the beginning of the Stave, how does the climate of
the city street contrast with the air it has about it?
 In spite of the damp, gloomy, sooty look of the streets,
they are filled with cheerfulness as the people go about
their Christmas Day preparations
Tiny Tim
 How does Tiny Tim affect Scrooge?
 He is touched and interested in whether he will survive,
then very upset when the spirit foretells a vacant seat
 How does the Spirit humiliate Scrooge where Tiny Tim is
 He speaks Scrooge’s own words, “If he be like to die, he
had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
What is meant by…
 “…to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too
much life among his hungry brothers in the dust”?
 The spirit is shaming Scrooge for thinking he is better
than others simply because he has more money
Bob Cratchit
 What does Bob Cratchit’s toast to Scrooge tell you about
 He is kind and forgiving, even though Mrs. Cratchit
disagrees and the children are unenthusiastic about
drinking to Scrooge
 How do you suppose Scrooge felt as he listened to
Cratchit defend him?
Brief scene on the moor p.42-43
 Why does Dickens include the brief scenes on the moor,
at the lighthouse, and on the ship?
 To show that no matter how lonely and poor the
circumstances, people still celebrate Christmas
Fred’s house
 As the scene at Fred’s opens, why is everyone laughing?
 Fred has just told them that his Uncle thinks Christmas
is a humbug
 Why does Fred say he has nothing to say against
 “his offences carry their own punishment…”; Fred feels
Scrooge suffers more for his issues than anyone else
Fred’s house
 How is Scrooge’s name brought into one of the games
played at the party?
 It is the answer in the game Yes and No – the clue
describes a disagreeable animal that growled and
The Two Children
 What two children does the spirit show to Scrooge?
 Ignorance and Want
 Why does the spirit say “They are Man’s”?
 The spirit is presenting Dickens’ own feeling that the
relief of the misery of the poor was the responsibility of
 What warning does the spirit use?
 If nothing is done about Ignorance and Want there will
eventually be dire consequences
 Cratchit relates that while he and Tiny Tim were at
church the little boy said he hoped people would look at
him and remember who made the blind see and the
lame walk
 The baskets of chestnuts “loll at the doors”
 Onions “wink and glance”
 Oranges/lemons “beseech and entreat”
 “Master Peter Cratchit blew the fire, until the slow
potatoes bubbling up, knocked loudly at the saucepanlid to be let out and peeled.”
 “Bob has but fifteen ‘Bob’ a week himself”
 “Bob is slang for shilling, equal to 1/20 of a British
 “Scrooge’s ears were deafened by the thundering of
water, as it rolled, and roared, and raged among the
dreadful caverns it had worn.”
Stave IV
The Last of the Spirits
The Phantom
 How is the Phantom different than the others we’ve seen
so far?
 This one is shrouded and mysterious, doesn’t say
anything. Scrooge is much more afraid of him than he
was of the others.
 What is the Spirit’s “official name”?
 The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
 How do you know that Scrooge has already made the
resolution to become a different kind of person?
 “…and as I hope to live to be another man from what I
was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with
a thankful heart.”
The Three Servants
 Why does it turn out to be strange that the three
servants arrive at the shop at the same time?
 They all have items to sell which they have stolen from
dead Scrooge.
 What seems to be the attitude of all three?
 At first they are a bit embarrassed, but soon talk
themselves into believing what they did was no sin since
Scrooge was “a wicked old screw” anyway
Caroline and Her Husband
 Why is Scrooge’s death good news for Caroline and her
 He has been their creditor, and has been pressing them
to pay their debt. Now their debt will be transferred to
someone else, affording some delay, and there is little
chance the new creditor could be as merciless as
Scrooge’s Death
 Scrooge asked the Phantom to show him some
tenderness connected with the death. What did the
Ghost show him?
 The Cratchit home, where they mourned the death of
Tiny Tim
 What question did Scrooge ask the Ghost as they stood
among the graves?
 He asked if the shadow were of things that Will be or
May be
Cratchit’s House
 Why are things to quiet at Cratchit’s house?
 Tiny Tim has just died
 Why do you suppose Dickens included this mild, patient,
loving child in A Christmas Carol?
 Possibly Tiny Tim is in the story to remind the reader of
the reason for Christmas, to celebrate the birth of
another mild, loving, child, Jesus
 Scrooge begs the spirit to confirm what he has learned.
This is a statement of the theme of the main theme of
the story. What is it?
 “Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if
persevered in, they must lead…but if the courses be
departed from, the ends will change.”
 What resolution does Scrooge make?
 “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all
the year. I will live in the Past, Present, and the Future.
The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not
shut out the lessons that they teach”
Dramatic Irony
 Dickens, the characters in the story, and we the readers
all know whose possessions are being sold at the pawn
shop. What do we know that Scrooge doesn’t?
 Scrooge realizes the same sort of thing could happen to
him, but he doesn’t understand that the dead man IS
Who Said it?
 “I am sure he loses pleasanter companions than he can
find in his own thoughts, either in his moldy old office,
or his dusty chambers.”
 Fred
 “To whom will our debt be transferred?”
 Caroline
 “Let me see some tenderness connected with a death…”
 Scrooge
Who Said It?
 “They are Man’s, and they cling to me, appealing from
their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. The girt is Want.
Beware of them both…”
 Ghost of Christmas Present
 “It should be Christmas Day, I am sure,…, on which one
drinks the health of such odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling
man as Mr.Scrooge…”
 Mrs.Cratchit
 “I see, I see. The case of this unhappy man might be my
own. My life tends that way, now. Merciful Heaven, what
is this!”
 Scrooge
Who Said It?
 “As good as gold and better,…Somehow he gets
thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the
strangest things you ever heard. He told me coming
home, that he hoped the people saw him in church,
because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to
them to remember ,upon Christmas Day, who made the
lame beggars walk and blind man see.”
 Bob Cratchit
 “Ha, ha! We’re all suitable to our calling, we’re well
matched. Come into the parlor. Come into the parlor.”
 Joe
Who Said It
 “I have known him to walk with – I have known him to
walk with Tiny Tim upon his shoulder very fast indeed.”
 Mrs. Cratchit
 “If he wanted to keep’em after he was dead, a wicked
old screw…why wasn’t he natural in his lifetime? If he
had been, he’d have had somebody to look after him
when he was struck with Death instead of lying gasping
out his last three, alone by himself.”
 Charwoman
Stave IV
 For what is Scrooge most grateful when he wakes up in
“present time”?
 He has the time to make amends.
 What can you infer from the line, “The father of a long,
long line of brilliant laughs!”?
 That Scrooge will be laughing a lot in the future.
 Figure of Speech = metaphor
 How does the weather on this Christmas Day contrast
with the weather in the opening scene?
 It is clear and sunny
 Why is it important that Scrooge wanted his gift to the
Cratchits to be anonymous?
 He wanted to simply GIVE, did not expect or want
Cratchit to feel indebted to him because of it
 Why was Scrooge surprised to learn that it was
Christmas morning?
 Marley’s Ghost had told him that the Spirits would visit
him on three successive nights: he had gone to sleep on
Christmas Eve and had seen all three spirits
 Why did Scrooge say he would love the door knocker as
long as he lived?
 It had alerted him to the presence of the spirits that
saved his life
With your new understanding of Scrooge’s character,
update the back side of your Scrooge head.
Turn this in for a grade!
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