illustration of Ebenezer Scrooge in silhouette walking toward a Christmas tree and followed by the three ghosts

A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens

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From Charles Dickens's beloved tale A Christmas Carol comes this quote. "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, and I am as merry as a schoolboy. ... A merry Christmas to everybody!" Interpret.

From Charles Dickens's tale A Christmas Carol, this quote includes a string of similes that convey Scrooge's newfound hope following the departure of the final spirit. Scrooge believes that it is possible to change the terrifying future that he has been shown through a change in character.

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This quote comes at the beginning of the final stave, and Scrooge has spent time with three different spirits who represented his past, present, and future—as well as the spirit of his old friend Marley. Each spirit has endeavored to provide lessons to the miserly Scrooge which will help transform him into a different man.

Scrooge is still wet with tears from pleading with the final ghost, the one who showed him his own tombstone. Scrooge has just finished begging this final spirit to acknowledge that it is possible for him to "change these shadows [the ghost has] shown [him], by an altered life." The ghost dissolves, and Scrooge is back in his own bedroom.

And he is relieved.

Scrooge is convinced that he can both alter his future and become the man he needs to be:

The shadows of the things that would have been, may be dispelled. They will be. I know they will!

In his relief, hope begins to grow as he starts to consider a new future. This is where his diction falls into this string of similes:

I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody!

Scrooge is as light as a feather because he is alive and has hope that he can alter the future which the final spirit showed him. The weight of this enormously burdensome image has been lifted. He also notes that he is as happy as an angel, both alluding to the supernatural forces which have visited him and connoting a new sense of faith and goodness that the Scrooge at the beginning of the story would have never hoped for. The image of being as merry as a schoolboy asks the reader to recall the young Scrooge early in the story who was visited by his beloved sister and whose heart overflowed with love upon seeing her. It is also a reminder of the relationship with Fanny's son, with whom Scrooge intends to forge new bonds.

The quote shows Scrooge's transformation into a man who is ready to impact his world in positive ways; he has left behind his greed and negativity.

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This quote comes from the final chapter, or stave, of the novella. As far as the story arc goes, this occurs during the denouement of the story, the falling action. At the end of the previous stave, the climax was reached. Scrooge, upon seeing his tombstone, comes to terms with his own end—that he was the miserable, unloved, friendless wretch he had seen lying on the bed. He determines to "change these shadows . . . by an altered life." 

In Stave 5, he awakes on Christmas morning, thrilled to be alive. He realizes he has been given a second chance, the chance to be a better man. He rejoices, and this series of similes he blurts out is the way...

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he expresses his feelings. Hopping about and dancing in his nightshirt, he makes four comparisons to describe his emotions: 

  • light as a feather: the weight of his guilt for how he has treated people and the fear of his lonely death have vanished, so he now feels light.
  • happy as an angel: since angels are perfectly good and dwell with God, they must be perfectly happy. Since Scrooge has determined to be a good man, he is also happy.
  • merry as a schoolboy: there's some irony here since when we saw Scrooge's past life as a schoolboy, it wasn't particularly happy. But schoolchildren should be without worries, and Scrooge feels his worries have left him, so he feels merry. 
  • giddy as a drunken man: Scrooge is indeed giddy, hopping around and shouting, not from drunkenness, but from joy.

Perhaps more important than any analytical interpretation of Scrooge's words is the effect of his blubbering them all out, stacking one simile on top of the other. The words tumble out to show that he can hardly contain his joy. Finally he exclaims, "A Merry Christmas to everybody!" Since he had been so sour previously, refusing to say "Merry Christmas," this little heartfelt soliloquy demonstrates that he is, indeed, a changed man.

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In the story A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens sets out to teach the world he lives in about poverty, treating children with love, and suggesting that we all could learn from Ebeneezer Scrooge.  This quote is from the last stave of the story, after Scrooge has been visited by all three ghosts, and has seen his future if he stays on the same path.  When he wakes in the morning, he throws open the curtains as if opening his world to the good news he now knows--that he can change his life now and change the ending of his life.  After dropping the heavy burden of being Scrooge where he carried all the hurts and slights against him as part of his baggage, this quote illustrates his feelings now.  He is now light as a feather without that burden, he is happy as an angel would be with the change to goodness, light and charity, and the merry as a schoolboy means that he has gone back to being the happy boy he once was, that all children are at Christmas time.  He is now wishing that everyone have a wonderful Christmas, not just those with money, but all those people who exist in this world,rich or poor.  He truly shows his changed life here, and showing us that we too can be as happy as he now is.

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