What is the climax of "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is the story of the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge from a cold, selfish miser to a person involved in his community. Scrooge is a bachelor who has no real social ties and whose life is entirely focused on making money. 

The story begins on Christmas Eve when Scrooge is invited to Christmas dinner by his brother Fred and declines with an anti-Christmas rant. In this scene, we are also introduced to Bob Cratchit, Scrooge's badly paid clerk who is the opposite of Scrooge, lacking money but having a loving family. This sets up two conflicts in the story, that of Scrooge to find some sort of happiness or goal in life (as his present is quite miserable) and Cratchit to find the money he needs for the care of his disabled child, Tiny Tim. That night, Scrooge has several visions which lead him to a self-transformation in which he understands that his own choice of actions are harming both himself and others. 

The climax of the story is the moment in which Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge his own grave which crystallizes the gradual series of emotional awakenings that Scrooge has been undergoing in his previous visions. Scrooge's action the next morning are a "denouement" or resolution following this climactic moment.

Scrooge's transformation is exemplified by his resolution:

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!

gpane eNotes educator| Certified Educator
The climax is when Scrooge is shown his own grave by the mysterious, silent Phantom of the Future, and is absolutely terrified. He is terrified not only by the vision of his own death but also the build-up to this vision in which no-one showed any grief at all over his death. He is utterly appalled at this idea of himself dying alone, mourned by nobody. It is the manner of his death that scares him rather than the thought of death itself. This is what spurs him on to completely change his ways and be a kind, caring person for the rest of his life, and we're told that he does so very successfully. This is the very heart of the novel - the great transformation that is wrought in Scrooge by the visit of the Three Spirits. It is, essentially, a moral tale.