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Charles Dickens's great classic Christmas tale, A Christmas Carol, differs from other narratives as it is divided into separate vignettes called Staves. While they have their own plots, these Staves do tie together into the whole of Ebenezer Scrooge's experiences which effect his epiphany that he has wasted his life as a miser who not only hoards gold, but also all human sympathies and sentiments.
--Here are the conflicts of the Staves that give rise to action in the plot:
Stave I. Scrooge's nephew Fred visits and his uncle scolds,
"...keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine....Much good it has ever done you!"
"There are may things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew.
Scrooge continues his grumbling about the Christmas and concern for the poor and hungry, uttering his famous "Bah, humbug!" When the old miser returns home, he is confronted with the ghost of his old partner Marley, who informs him that unless he changes, he, too, will be bound in chains. Further,Marley tells Scrooge he will be visited by Three Spirits.
Stave II - The Ghost of Christmas Past appears to Scrooge and takes him back to recall his childhood and the joy of working for the warm-hearted Fezziwig and the love of a young woman that he lost because of his consuming desire for wealth. He also sees his sister and recalls his love for her; further, the Ghost reminds Scrooge that she had a son, whom he neglects, awakening Scrooge's conscience and his sense of family responsibility along with the joy that he has lost.
Stave III - The Ghost of Christmas Present appears and takes Scrooge over the streets of London showing him the busy shops as shoppers buy their Christmas geese and other fixings along with the carefree frolicking of the boys who throw snowballs. In contrast, then, the spirit takes Scrooge to the lonely lamplighter, the impoverished miners, and then to the home of Bob Crachit where little, crippled Tiny Tim is, then to the home of Fred, where Scrooge is the butt of jokes by guests. Finally, the spirit uncovers from his robes two tattered children called Ignorance and Want. Scrooge's heart is touched by them, but the spirit uses Scrooge's own words against him, causing Scrooge to feel stirrings of guilt over his dismissal of the poor as needing to go to workhouses or die and "decrease the surplus population."
Stave IV - The Ghost of Christmas Future shows Scrooge what will happen after he dies. No one will come for him, and thieves will rob his old body of anything they can, leaving his corpse "plundered and bereft, unwatched, unwept, uncared for...." Scrooge also perceives that in the future Tiny Tim dies. The old miser is greatly moved by these scenes; therefore, he begs the spirit to not let Tim die and he promises to honor Christmas in his heart.
Stave V - It is a reformed Ebenezer Scrooge who awakens in this last vignette. Quickly he arises and calls to a boy on the street, "What day is this?" "Why it's Christmas Day!" is the reply. Scrooge dresses "in his best" and sets out to enact his promises of reform.
When the ghost of Marley comes to Scrooge, we see the set-up for the entire story. Marley was Scrooge's business partner, who has died years earlier, and he is trying to make Scrooge see that he needs to change.
The first rising conflict is when the Ghost of Christmas Past visits Scrooge. Scrooge is taken on a journey through his past. We learn a little bit about why he is the way he is. When Scrooge is shown himself as a boy in the boarding school, we see that Scrooge was abandoned by his father. This effect on Scrooge has made him withdrawn and not able to trust people.
When we are shown his sister, Fan, come to get him and take him home, we see the real love between brother and sister. The death of Fan is another loss in the conflict Scrooge has to deal with.
When the Ghost shows him the party at Fezzywig's, we are shown how happy Scrooge can be. He loves the man very much. When the Ghost shows him his and Belle's relationship, we learn that Scrooge loved her very much, but his conflicting love of money controlled everything he did now.
The Ghost of Christmas Present another rising conflict when he shows Scrooge how things really are for Bob Cratchit. We are shown how he has to struggle for every penny he has, but we also see a deep love in the man. He loves his family very much. We are shown another conflict involving Scrooge's nephew, Fred, who is the son of Scrooge's beloved sister Fan. We see two families and how they react when someone says "Scrooge": They both have very strong feelings about the man.
The Ghost of Christmas Future shows Scrooge the great conflict involving what will happen not only to him, but to the other people he affects. If he doesn't change his ways, his whole life will be for nothing, and all the people he has touched in life will be affected adversely in one way or another.
Rising action is the part of a story where things are starting to get more interesting, and the conflicts become more intense and complicated. In this book, the first stave is largely exposition. It introduces us to the main characters and introduces the key conflicts: Scrooge is a miserly grouch, and the ghosts are trying to change him.
The first rising action event is the arrival of ghost number one, the Ghost of Christmas Past. Each new vision is another rising action. His boyhood school, his sister’s arrival, Fezzywig’s party, and his fiancé dumping him are all key rising action.
The rising action continues in Stave 3 with the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Scrooge encounters the Cratchits and Fred. Both are the most significant parts of Stave 3’s rising action.
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