How does Charles Dickens make use of his writing style in A Christmas Carol, and how do audiences respond to it?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A Christmas Carol remains one of the most popular narratives in Western culture; it has been adapted to every form:  stage, radio, television, movies, etc.  Yet, the novel form remains the most poignant telling of all.  That the Victorian audiences were enthralled with Dickens's narrative is without question, for Mr. Dickens even charged admission to his readings; the admission went to Dickens's many charities.  Of course, the style of writing would be contemporary for the Victorians, so it was probably more popular with them.  Still, many a modern reader long remembers Scrooge and the 3 Ghosts, for Charles Dickens was a master of creating memorable characters. 

The narrative concerns a man set in Victorian times, so the Victorian style of writing is appropriate to the narrative.  Dickens wrote with a poetic flair--poetry was very popular in the Victorian era--including metaphors, similes, personification, imagery, and symbolism.  Often buildings symbolize the people who inhabit them, such as the old Tellson's Bank that houses old Mr. Lorry of A Tale of Two Cities and the decrepit and decaying Satis House in which Miss Havisham dwells in Great Expectations.   Satire is often used.  Scrooge is so cruel that he says that the poor need to hurry and die so they can "decrease the surplus population." But light-hearted humor is present as well as characters who offer comic relief.  All these elements liven what could easily be too sombre a tale.  For instance, the rag-pickers bickering lightens the sombreness of the fact that they are quibbling over the clothes of the dead Scrooge.  And, it is certainly to the credit of Dickens that such a despicable character as Ebenezer Scrooge can elicit sympathy from the reader at the end of the narrative after his conversion to charity.

A most successful writer in his own time, and a classical author now, Charles Dickens is, indeed, an author "for all seasons" to be enjoyed by readers of any age or time period.