Introduction to A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol is a novella by Charles Dickens. It was originally published in 1843 to critical and popular acclaim, and it has gone on to be one of Dickens’s most famous works, as well as one of the most popular Christmas stories ever written. In the years since its publication, A Christmas Carol has never been out of print, and it is routinely adapted, retold, and parodied, especially around the holidays.

Dickens was purportedly inspired by several factors when writing A Christmas Carol, including the declining sentimentality in Britain surrounding the Christmas holidays and the inhumane working conditions of impoverished children. Dickens was particularly sympathetic to the cause of the working poor, and several of his other works, including Oliver Twist, highlight the hardships they faced. 

The transformation of Ebeneezer Scrooge from a miserly curmudgeon into a generous, kind man is one of the most celebrated character arcs in literature. In addition to its messages about the plight of the poor and the meaning of Christmas, A Christmas Carol also offers an optimistic view of human nature and the human ability to overcome one's faults. Ultimately, Scrooge's story indicates that the decision to be kind rather than selfish can redeem even the most unsympathetic individuals.

A Brief Biography of Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812–1870) was arguably the most prominent English novelist of the Victorian era, known as much for the epic sweep and realistic texture of his fiction as for his keen awareness of the social issues of his time. Raised in an impoverished family and forced to work in a factory from a young age, Dickens went on to work as a journalist as a young man and eventually began writing and selling fiction in the serialized format typical of the time. His first novel was The Pickwick Paperas, published in 1836, which quickly became an enormous success. Over the next three decades, Dickens produced a monumental body of work—including novels, plays, short stories, and nonfiction—with broad popular appeal and literary richness. By championing social causes in his works, creating vivid, unforgettable characters, and caring for his audience as much as he did for his pen, Dickens established himself as one of the greatest authors of nineteennth-century England. His best-known works include Oliver Twist (1838), A Christmas Carol (1843), and A Tale of Two Cities (1859).

Frequently Asked Questions about A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

The scene when Scrooge interacts with his sister presents an altogether different characterization of the detached, money-hungry Scrooge everyone else knows. The Ghost of Christmas Past takes...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2020, 11:27 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Christmas Carol

In stave 2 of A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge travels back in time with the Ghost of Christmas Past, with whom he encounters people and places from his past. The reader is introduced to...

Latest answer posted October 18, 2020, 3:08 pm (UTC)

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A Christmas Carol

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come—sometimes known as the Ghost of Christmas Future, despite not being referred to as such in the text—is arguably the scariest and most serious spirit that visits...

Latest answer posted October 18, 2020, 11:32 am (UTC)

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A Christmas Carol

When the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge back to see old Fezziwig, Scrooge says that he was apprenticed to the man alongside another young man named Dick Wilkins. Because Scrooge is a banker,...

Latest answer posted October 18, 2020, 11:11 am (UTC)

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A Christmas Carol

This requires some personal opinion, so it's important that you support your answer here. I think that you could make a case for any of the ghosts who visit Scrooge being the most important,...

Latest answer posted October 18, 2020, 11:20 am (UTC)

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A Christmas Carol

When the ghost of Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge's deceased business partner, visits Scrooge in stave 1 of A Christmas Carol, Marley tells Scrooge that he "will be haunted by Three Spirits."...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2020, 11:45 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Christmas Carol

In the original story of A Christmas Carol, no reason is ever given for why Scrooge's father disliked him so much. The reader learns from the Christmas Past sequence that Scrooge grew up lonely and...

Latest answer posted October 18, 2020, 11:26 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Christmas Carol

Given what we know about Scrooge—that he's a miserly old man who hates Christmas—it comes as something of a shock to learn that in his younger days, he actually enjoyed the festive season. Thanks...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2020, 11:15 am (UTC)

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A Christmas Carol

Scrooge initially fears the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come because it is a visually fearsome image. Great details are provided about the eerie appearance of this ghost. When Scrooge first sees it,...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2020, 11:13 am (UTC)

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A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol is an 1843 fictional novella written by famed English writer Charles Dickens. It tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old, selfish, and cold miser whose life is turned upside...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2020, 11:39 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Christmas Carol

“Bah, humbug” is what Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge says whenever someone says anything he does not like or disagrees with. It is a phrase he utters to convey his curmudgeonly displeasure. Readers see this...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2020, 1:14 pm (UTC)

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A Christmas Carol

The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to a memory of Fezziwig, and Scrooge is immediately filled with fond recollections of his former mentor. Upon seeing him, Scrooge exclaims, "Why, it's old...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2020, 11:45 am (UTC)

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A Christmas Carol

The main message of A Christmas Carol is the importance of love, kindness, and generosity. At the beginning of the story, Ebenezer Scrooge has become a bitter old shell of a man with no compassion...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2020, 11:16 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Christmas Carol

The question of whether or not A Christmas Carol is based on a true story is answered by the presence of the ghost of Scrooge's former business partner, Marley, as well as Ghost of Christmas Past,...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2020, 11:27 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Christmas Carol

Yes, Scrooge did have a bad childhood. He was, evidently, sent away to school at a very young age, and he was often left alone at school during holidays and breaks. When the Ghost of Christmas Past...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2020, 1:45 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Christmas Carol

The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge back to his childhood, where he is sitting cold and lonely in an empty schoolroom. All of a sudden, his sister Fan arrives to take him home, right at...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2020, 11:22 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Christmas Carol

"Bah! Humbug!" exclaims Ebenezer Scrooge when his nephew, Fred, wishes him a merry Christmas in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Indeed, Scrooge despises Christmas and anything to do with it....

Latest answer posted October 17, 2020, 2:01 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Christmas Carol

A carol, as we all know, is a song people sing at Christmas, usually an uplifting song that celebrates the birth of the Christ child. Christ's birth is remembered in these carols as the beginning...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2020, 11:42 am (UTC)

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A Christmas Carol

In Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge makes his wealth, defined for him as his money and his business, the very center of his life. He focuses all of his attention on it, and he...

Latest answer posted October 18, 2020, 5:15 pm (UTC)

3 educator answers

A Christmas Carol

Marley's chains represent spiritual burdens he "forged" in his own life: that is, his callousness towards other human beings in favor of money or power. In any story, chains tend to represent a...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2020, 11:22 am (UTC)

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Summary