What is example of an allusion used in Stave One of A Christmas Carol?    I have looked through the book a few times now, I cannot find anything that appears to be an allusion to anything else...

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One allusion made by the narrator in stave one refers to Bedlam, an insane asylum.  When Scrooge's nephew, Fred, comes to visit him at his place of business, Fred is cheerful and kind and hopes that his uncle will consent to come to Christmas dinner.  Although Scrooge refuses him repeatedly and even somewhat cruelly, Fred continues to be generous and hopeful until his uncle vehemently dismisses him.  Once he's gone, Scrooge says, of his clerk, Bob Cratchit,

"There's another fellow . . . my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking about a merry Christmas.  I'll retire to Bedlam."

Bedlam was one of the first insane asylums in the United Kingdom.  With this allusion, Scrooge seems to say that his nephew, Fred, is crazy, as his is clerk, Bob Cratchit, because they both insist on celebrating Christmas despite the fact that they have no money.  Surrounded by all this so-called "insanity," Scrooge feels that he might as well be in Bedlam.  

Another allusion refers to Saint Dunstan, a tenth-century monk that eventually became Archbishop of Canterbury.  The narrator of A Christmas Carol says that the weather is

Foggier yet, and colder!  Piercing, searching, biting cold.  If the good Saint Dunstan had but nipped the Evil Spirit's nose with a touch of such weather as that, instead of using his familiar weapons, then indeed he would have roared to lusty purpose.

The historical Saint Dunstan actually used a blacksmith's tool, metal tongs, to grab the Devil's nose, and this is the story to which the narrator refers.  Therefore, he is saying that being grabbed by such biting cold as this would actually be more painful than being grabbed by a blacksmith's fire-licked tongs.  

schulzie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An allusion is a reference to an event, literary work, work of art or something that is well-known by the general populace to clarify an idea.

At the beginning of A Christmas Carol, Dickens needs the reader to realize that Marley is dead because if the reader does not understand this, then the whole idea of Marley's ghost visiting Scrooge and setting him up for his three ghostly visits will be a waste of time.  He says,

"This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can  come of the story I am going to relate." (pg 5 - Stave One)

Dickens even uses the word "dead" seven times on the first page.  

To reinforce and clarify his idea, he alludes to Shakespeare's Hamlet --- a literary allusion --- in that the ghost of Hamlet's father visits him on the ramparts of the castle to tell him that he was murdered.  Dickens says,

"If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's Father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there woud be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot-- say St. Paul's Cathedral for instance - literally to astonish his son's weak mind" (pg 5-6 Stave One)

If we did not believe that Hamlet's father was dead, then the story would have had a different impact.  Dickens alludes to Hamlet and to St. Pauls Cathedral to make his point. It is important that we realize that Marley is a character who is also dead and whose ghost we are about to meet.

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A Christmas Carol

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