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What is the "plot triangle" for A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens?

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theestudent | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted December 5, 2009 at 10:36 AM via web

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What is the "plot triangle" for A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted December 15, 2009 at 12:02 PM (Answer #1)

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Most everything "scotgill" said was spot-on in regards to the different elements of plot from A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens; however, let me add a little bit more about the exposition (which wasn't spoken of yet) and the climax (which I feel a little bit differently about). 

Much of "Stave One:  Marley's Ghost" is actually exposition.  Enotes describes exposition as the first part of the plot "in which background information about the characters and situation is set forth." It is quite a while before Scrooge is confronted by Marley (first in the form of the door knocker).  Before this, we learn quite a bit about Scrooge's character, and often with quite adamant exclamation:

Oh!  but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge!  a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! (Dickens 10)

It is in regards to the climax of the story that I differ in opinion.   We neither see the death of Tiny Tim nor the death of Scrooge.  What we see, as avid readers, is the affects of these deaths.  Yes, the death of Tiny Tim is incredibly saddening; however, it is not at this moment that the spirit conducts Scrooge home.  Why?  The spirit's mission is not yet complete.  Period.  In fact, Scrooge's reaction to Tiny Tim's death is not our own.  Bob Cratchit implores his family to never forget this "patient and mild" and yet "little, little child" (106), bringing us all to tears, but Scrooge's next words are simply:

Spectre, . . . something informs me that our parting moment is at hand.  I know it, but I know not how.  Tell me what man that was whom we saw lying dead. (106)

Ah, Scrooge's thoughts still dwell upon himself and the fear of the upcoming climax.  In my opinion, the exact climax of the novel is as follows:

Scrooge crept towards [the grave], trembling as he went; and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, EBENEZER SCROOGE.

"Am I that man who lay upon the bed?" he cried, upon his knees?

The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again.

"No, Spirit!  Oh, no, no!"

The finger still was there. (107)

Confirmation that Scrooge is in fact the source of all taunts, ridicule, and disgust that have been heaped upon him through the vision of the Ghost of Christmas Future.  Immediately after this moment, Scrooge vows to change.  And as I am a big fan of happy endings, . . . the next part of the novel is my favorite.

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theestudent | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted December 23, 2009 at 10:11 AM (Answer #2)

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Thanks so much guys! You both are really awesome and smart. My teacher just graded my "note cards" (we had to make some of a plot triangle) and I got 100 thanks to you guys! Thanks!

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scottgill | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 5, 2009 at 12:03 PM (Answer #3)

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The conflict of A Christmas Carol occurs when Scrooge is confronted by Marley and told about his chains. This reveals to Scrooge the problem, that he is greedy and his maltreatment of man will end in judgement against him unless; however, he listens to the ghosts that will visit him.

The visits of the ghosts make up the majority of the rising action as Scrooge is confronted with the reality of his own empty soul. Steadily, he sees his wrongdoing. For example, in Stave 2 he tells the first ghost that he was wrong in shutting out a young boy who was begging for food. These encounters come to a climax when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows the death of Tiny Tim and the death of Scrooge.

The falling action/resolution occurs when Scrooge wakes up and begins to right all the wrongs he has committed. He gives away money, brings Christmas dinner to the Cratchett's, gives Bob a raise, and mends a relationship with his nephew. Scrooge is redeemed from a greedy hater of Christmas to a generous keeper of the holiday.

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