What is a juxtaposition in A Christmas Carol?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The characters of Ebenezer Scrooge and his nephew, Fred, are juxtaposed (described closely together in the text), which brings out their contrast even more fully. Ebenezer is described as

a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice . . . He carried his own low temperature always about with him.

He is described as cold in every way: in terms of his temperature, his appearance, and his emotions. Put bluntly, he is unfeeling and totally lacks compassion. He is greedy, unkind, and gruff. His nephew, Fred, on the other hand,

had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge’s, that he was all in a glow; his face was ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again.

While Scrooge is everything cold, Fred is warm, both literally and figuratively. He's physically heated himself up with quick walking, and he is all aglow, with a ruddy face, sparkling eyes, and smoky breath. Everything about his description makes him sound warm, and he is warm in terms of his personality, too. He champions Christmas, helping others, and finding joy, while Scrooge would rather be left alone to himself and his business.

The juxtaposition of these two characters allows us to really see the full measure of their contrast. In addition, seeing Fred's Christmas dinner with the Ghost of Christmas Present helps to "thaw out" Scrooge, making him less cold emotionally.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The cold, lonely, friendless life of Ebenezer Scrooge stands in stark contrast (juxtaposition) against the warm, loving worlds of the Cratchit family and his nephew, Fred.  

 Ebenezer has the chance to have a wife and to build a life with her when he is a younger man.  Instead, he chooses his greed.  Belle refuses to marry Ebenezer when she realizes that his money is more important to him than she is.  This leaves him alone and he becomes more and more isolated.

In his old age, Ebenezer is wealthy and lives alone with no close family or friends.  When the Ghost of Christmas Present shows him the Cratchit family sharing their meager meal, he sees their love, warmth, and togetherness.  He also views his nephew, Fred, who has a loving wife and is surrounded by friends at Christmastime.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial