A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What are some examples of literary devices in A Christmas Carol?

Expert Answers info

mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,149 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

A perennial favorite of audiences of all ages, A Christmas Carol is a classical tale of a miserly old man who finds himself confronted with his present, past, and future. In this confrontation, Scrooge is uncomfortable with much of what is shown to him; consequently, he resolves to reform.

In order to describe his characters, especially Ebenezer Scrooge, Charles Dickens employs certain literary devices. Here are some: 

Stave One

Metaphor (unstated comparisons):

  • "But he [Scrooge] was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone"
  • "a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!"
  • "A...

    (The entire section contains 4 answers and 700 words.)

    Unlock This Answer Now



Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

fezziwig eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write96 answers

starTop subject is Literature

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

fezziwig eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write96 answers

starTop subject is Literature

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

fezziwig eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write96 answers

starTop subject is Literature

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


rachheslehurst | Student

There are many literary devices that you can explore in the novella but here are a few that I think are the most effective (depending on the question you get in the exam.) The following devices are from Stave 1 of the novella.

Scrooge is described using the simile ‘as solitary as an oyster.’ This could imply that Scrooge prefers to be alone, as the adjective ‘solitary’ means being alone. It could also illustrate the fact that Scrooge has isolated himself from society through his own actions, causing himself to be alone. Furthermore, the noun ‘oyster’ which is used to describe Scrooge, is a creature at the bottom of the ocean that holds onto its’ pearls. This could be a representation of Scrooge himself, as just like an oyster with its’ pearls, he holds on tightly to his wealth and doesn’t share. It is also incredibly difficult for other characters to see the real him - he doesn’t open up easily, just like an oyster doesn’t. With regards to oysters being at the bottom of the ocean, it could relate to Scrooge’s character, as he is used to being at the bottom of peoples’ Christmas lists and invites, as nobody likes him.

In addition to this, the juxtaposition of the personalities of Fred, Scrooge’s nephew and Scrooge himself in the first stave is a deliberate literal device. It is there to demonstrate how cold and selfish Scrooge is and is highlighted through the contrast of Fred’s cheery and thoughtful nature. For example, when Fred first enters Scrooge’s counting house, he says ‘A Merry Christmas, Uncle!’ and attempts to persuade Scrooge to come for Christmas dinner. Scrooge repeatedly responds with ‘Good day!’ - in other words, ‘go away,’ leaving Fred hurt and dejected. Dickens has this interaction take place in the first part of the novella to explicitly illustrate Scrooge’s reluctance to partake in society, as well as his dislike for anything positive and family-orientated. He does this so that the reader can clearly see the change Scrooge goes through on his journey to redemption throughout the novella.