9th Grade Novels‎ > ‎

A Christmas Carol

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

Author: Charles Dickens

Text Read by Patrick Stewart

Varied Online Versions of "A Christmas Carol"


Other Links

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video




motivation (fear/reward)


A Christmas Carol Trivia

  • Charley Dickens said, "My father was always at his best at Christmas."  Charles Dickens loved to celebrate Christmas.  His favorite time during the holidays was Twelfth Night, the feast of the Epiphany.  
  • Early in 1843, as a response to a government report on the abuse of child laborers in mines and factories, Dickens vowed he would strike a "sledge-hammer blow . . . on behalf of the Poor Man's Child."  That sledge-hammer was A Christmas Carol.   
  • It only took Dickens about six weeks to write A Christmas Carol.  Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit helped speed up the process.  When Dickens wrote he "saw" his characters much like the way that young Ebenezer Scrooge saw the characters from the books he had read.  As Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol he said that the Cratchits were "ever tugging at his coat sleeve, as if impatient for him to get back to his desk and continue the story of their lives".
  • "Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail."   This line appears toward the beginning of the novel.  Dickens included this because of a dream.  He had dreamt that one of his good friends was pronounced to be "as dead Sir . . . as a door-nail".
  • The Cratchit family is based on Dickens' childhood home life. He lived in poor circumstances in a "two up two down" four roomed house which he shared with his parents and five siblings. Like Peter Cratchit, young Charles, the eldest boy, was often sent to pawn the family's goods when money was tight. Like many poor families the Cratchit's had nothing in which to roast meat. They relied on the ovens of their local baker which were available on Sundays and Christmas when the bakery was closed.
  • A Christmas Carol was first published in 1843.  Initially six thousand copies of the book were printed.  More copies were ordered after the first printing was sold in only five days.
  • One literary critic called A Christmas Carol a "national institution".  Dickens' friend and fellow author, William Makepeace Thackeray,  was quick to correct the critic and call the book a "national benefit".
  • At the time Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol Christmas wasn't commonly celebrated as a festive holiday. In The Pickwick Papers and A Christmas CarolDickens' descriptions of feasting, games and family unity combined with his message that Christmas was a time "when want is keenly felt and abundance rejoices" helped revive popular interest in many Christmas traditions that are still practiced today.  
  • In 1867 Dickens read A Christmas Carol at a public reading in Chicago.  One of the audience members , Mr. Fairbanks, was a scale manufacturer.  Mr. Fairbanks was so moved that he decided to "break the custom we have hitherto observed of opening the works on Christmas day."  Not only did he close the factory on Christmas day, but he gave Christmas turkeys to all of his employees. 

Guiding Questions

In what way is A Christmas Carol an allegory? What are the symbolic meanings of the main characters? 

Answer:  A Christmas Carol is an allegory in that it features events and characters with a clear, fixed symbolic meaning. In the novella, Scrooge represents all the values that are opposed to the idea of Christmas--greed, selfishness, and a lack of goodwill toward one's fellow man. The Ghost of Christmas Past, with his glowing head symbolizing the mind, represents memory; the Ghost of Christmas Present represents generosity, empathy, and the Christmas spirit; and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come represents the fear of death and moral reckoning. The Cratchits represent the poor, whom Dickens portrays with warmth and sympathy while seeking to draw attention to their plight. 

How does the time scheme of A Christmas Carolfunction? Why might Dickens have chosen to structure his book in this way? 

Answer:  Time is very important in A Christmas Carol,which is structurally centered around distinct elements of Past, Present, and Future. But, the time scheme of the story itself seems to make little sense. On Christmas Eve, Jacob Marley's ghost tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts on three successive nights. On Christmas morning, Scrooge awakes, having already been visited by all three ghosts. The three nights seem to be compressed into a single night. The presence of the spirits apparently bends the normal flow of time. A view further supported by the fact that Scrooge goes to bed at two o'clock in the morning after Marley's visitation and awakes at midnight the same night--two hours after he fell asleep. Dickens uses the temporal inconsistencies to emphasize the supernatural powers of the spirits--when they are around, normal earthly standards, including the flow of time, have no effect.

What role does social criticism play in A Christmas Carol? To what extent is the story a social commentary? 

Answer:  Social Commentary--particularly those statements directed at the Poor Laws governing the lower classes during Dickens' time--plays an important but not a central role in A Christmas Carol. Dickens often uses Scrooge as a mouthpiece to express the more callous justifications and excuses used to defend the harsh treatment of the poor. Malthus' theory that anyone who could not support himself did not have a right to live is a good example of these outrageous claims. Asked whether he wishes to sup port a charity, Scrooge replies that he does support charities--prisons and workhouses, which are all the charity the poor need. Dickens harshly criticizes these attitudes and presents a highly sympathetic view of the poor through his depiction of the Cratchits. On the whole, however, the numerous messages of A Christmas Carol expand far beyond this narrow political critique of Victorian society.

Other Questions:
  • Think about the story's narrator and about the way Dickens chooses to tell his tale. What role does humor play in the narration? How do the comic aspects of A Christmas Carol interact with and support the moral and ghost-story aspects? How does Dickens blend comedy and horror?
  • How is wealth treated in the story? Is it a sign of moral corruption and greed, or does Dickens offer a more complex assessment?


SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on A Christmas Carol.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. n.d.. Web. 6 Dec. 2012.

Full Bibliographic Citation


SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on A Christmas Carol.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. n.d.. Web. 6 Dec. 2012.

The Chicago Manual of Style

SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on A Christmas Carol.” SparkNotes LLC. n.d.. http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/christmascarol/ (accessed December 6, 2012).


SparkNotes Editors. (n.d.). SparkNote on A Christmas Carol. Retrieved December 6, 2012, from http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/christmascarol/

In Text Citation


“Their conversation is awkward, especially when she mentions Wickham, a subject Darcy clearly wishes to avoid” (SparkNotes Editors).


Compare and contrast the three spirits who visit Scrooge. What are their main similarities? What are their main differences? Do their differences have any thematic significance? (Why, for instance, do they look and dress so differently?)

Compare and contrast the movie with the book. 

More Background

A Christmas Carol, probably the most popular piece of fiction that Dickens ever wrote,  was published in 1843.

Dickens's Life When Writing A Christmas Carol

  • Late in 1842 or early in 1843 Dickens begins work on Martin Chuzzlewit.
  • Dickens begins work on A Christmas Carol in October of 1843.  It is published during the holiday season of that year.  
  • On January 15, 1844 Francis Jeffery (Frank) Dickens, the third son of Charles Dickens, is born.  

Popularity of  A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol was the most successful book of the 1843 holiday season.  By Christmas it sold six thousand copies and it continued to be popular into the new year.  Eight stage adaptations were in production within two months of the book's publication.  

The book is as popular today as it was over 150 years ago.  Charles Dickens, through the voice of Scrooge, continues to urge us to honor Christmas in our hearts and  try to keep it all the year.

Ragged Schools  

Dickens was involved in charities and social issues throughout his entire life.  At the time that he wrote A Christmas Carol he was very concerned with impoverished children who turned to crime and delinquency in order to survive. 

"This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want."

Dickens, as well as others, thought that education could provide a way to a better life for these children.  The Ragged School movement put these ideas into action.  The schools provided free education for children in the inner-city.  The movement got its name from the way the children attending the school were dressed.  They often wore tattered or ragged clothing.  

Themes of  A Christmas Carol

Scrooge's transformation is legendary.  At the beginning of the story he's a greedy, selfish person .

" . . . every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart." to the man who "knew how to keep Christmas well"

Initially Scrooge is a miser who shows a decided lack of concern for the rest of mankind.  However after a ghostly night, Scrooge sees life in a whole new way. 

He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. 

Beyond merely urging his readers to not be miserly Dickens seems to be reminding us of the importance in taking notice of the lives of those around us. 

"It is required of every man," the ghost returned, "that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and, if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death."  

Dickens had this to say about A Christmas Carol:

I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. 

Their faithful Friend and Servant,

C. D.
December, 1843


ghost of yet to come - death
ghost of Christmas past - enlightenment or truth
ghost of Christmas present - Christmas spirit
tiny Tim (his employs son - bob cratchits kid) - consequence's or optimism
turkey (that he buys for bob cratchit and his family) - generosity
bed curtains - life
church bells - god
Fred (his nephew) - joy or second chances
fan (his sister) - hope or reuniting
1) Scrooge: penny

2) Marley: chain

3) Ghost of Christmas Past: candle

4) Belle: locket (I chose this because we often keep the picture of someone we loved but no longer have in a locket)

5) Fezzywig: punch glass

6) Ghost of Christmas Present: cornucopia (you can make one from a basket)

7) Bob Cratchit: quill pen

8) Tiny Tim: crutch

9) Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come: skeletal hand

10) Scrooge's death: headstone

11) Fred: Music

12) Scrooge's transformation: turkey

13) Christmas: wreath

14) Letting man's spirit walk among his fellow man: show

15) Reminder of redemption: tiny chain bracelet

1 one lump of coal (or a rock painted black) to symbolize how stingy Scrooge is with the heat
2 a pair of moth-eaten knitted gloves to represent poor Bob Cratchit
3 a door knocker
4 a long chain (for Marley)
5 a clock set at 1:00
6 a holly branch (for the 1st spirit)
7 a bunch of flowers (for the 1st spirit)
8 an old school book to represent young Ebenezer
9a ring to represent his lost love
10 a bowl full of nuts and fruit and candy (for the 2nd spirit)
11 a sprig of mistletoe and a length of ivy (for the 2nd spirit)
12 a crutch
13 a homemade Christmas ornament to represent the Cratchit family
14 a Bible opened to the nativity story in Luke
15 an old suit coat with pockets turned inside out
16 a Christmas card signed "Merry Christmas! Ebenezer Scrooge"


Subpages (1): Christmas Carol Quiz