A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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In A Christmas Carol, how does Dickens create atmosphere in Old Joe's shop?

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In stave four of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come view a scene from the future which takes place in Old Joe's Shop. In this scene, Dickens uses two techniques to create a strong atmosphere which hooks the reader and adds to the sense of mystery.

First of all, Dickens achieves this by contrasting Old Joe's shop with the preceding scene. Scrooge and the ghost have just come from the heart of the city, "amongst merchants," and businessmen. This the home of London's industrial captains who converse soberly and discuss the business affairs of the day. The difference between this scene and Old Joe's shop is striking.

Dickens also creates atmosphere in Old Joe's shop with a heavy use of detail. He use language to give the reader a glimpse of London's darker side: "the ways were foul and narrow; the shops and houses wretched; the people half-naked, drunken, slipshod, ugly." This place is the preserve of London's poor and deprived population, usually hidden from view, but brought strongly into focus by Dickens' descriptions of the sights, smells and sounds of this neighbourhood. In this way, the reader is able to know this place intimately and this sets the tone for Scrooge's next life lesson. 

 

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