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Introductions to novels are often considered to be the prologues, and in a prologue there are three things that occur:

  1. The reader is given the general idea of the narrative
  2. The reader's interest is ignited
  3. The tone of the narrative is established.

In Charles Dickens's imaginative novella, The Christmas Carol, the author begins with the simple sentence,

Marley was dead, to begin with. There was no doubt whatever about that.

And, this idea is reiterated for three paragraphs until Dickens writes,

This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.

Thus, in the introduction to A Christmas Carol, the reiteration that Marley is dead and that he was a man clearly alone in the world, lays the groundwork for a ghost story connected to Marley's death. Also, the alienation of Marley's life becomes evident as Dickens's stresses that Scrooge was his sole executor, sole friend, and sole mourner. And, the fact that Scrooge never removes Marley's name from the business title of Scrooge and Marley is unimportant to Scrooge, who answers to either Marley or his own name when new customers call upon him, suggests the strange connection of Scrooge with his former partner as well as Scrooge's odd character that is so detached from life.

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