A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol book cover
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Characters at a Glance

  • Ebenezer Scrooge is a miser who only cares about money. After transformational visits from three ghosts, Scrooge learns to be generous and caring toward others.
  • Bob Cratchit, father to Tiny Tim, is Scrooge’s kind and loyal employee.
  • Jacob Marley is Scrooge’s deceased business partner. His ghost visits Scrooge and warns him to change his ways.
  • The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge back in time to his more hopeful and happy childhood.
  • The Ghost of Christmas Present is a loud, genial spirit who shows Scrooge how the people in his life enjoy Christmas without him.
  • The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come silently shows Scrooge the misery that awaits him, should he refuse to change his life.

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Characters

Ebenezer Scrooge

Ebenezer Scrooge begins the story as a mean, miserable, tight-fisted old man whose main preoccupation in life is making money and holding on to it. The story reveals that he knew happiness as a child and as a young man, when he loved and was loved by a beautiful young woman named Belle. But the love of money drove all other passions out of his heart, and at the beginning of the story he seems to care for no one—though his nephew, Fred, makes overtures of friendship to him and always invites him to dinner on Christmas Day.

Scrooge particularly hates Christmas because he sees it as a time when people stop being productive and indulge in feckless, idle behavior, "paying bills without money." He begrudges Bob Cratchit his day's holiday, remarking that he still has to pay him for a day's work and that the Christmas season is "A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!"

Scrooge is a flat character (like everyone else in the story), but he is a rare example of a flat character who is also dynamic, since he undergoes a massive change over the course of the night. On Christmas morning, he reforms completely and becomes a thoroughly benevolent and generous old gentlemen, showering gifts on Bob, Fred, and all those at whom he previously sneered.

Bob Cratchit

Bob Cratchit is Scrooge's long-suffering, mild-mannered clerk. He is paid only fifteen shillings a week and lives in poverty. However, he is still able to provide a Christmas feast for his family and is amiable enough to drink Scrooge's health as "the founder of the feast" on Christmas Day.

Tiny Tim (Tim Cratchit)

Tiny Tim is Bob Cratchit's youngest son. He has been crippled from birth and walks with the support of a crutch and an iron frame. Scrooge asks the Ghost of Christmas Present whether Tiny Tim will live and is told that, as things stand, he will die. This, however, is altered when Scrooge helps the Cratchits and becomes a second father to Tiny Tim. Tiny Tim's words "God bless us every one" form one of the best-known phrases in the story.

Jacob Marley

Jacob Marley was Scrooge's business partner; he died seven years before the story begins. Marley was just as greedy as Scrooge when they were alive but now returns as a ghost to warn Scrooge against continuing on the same path. Marley wears a chain that he says he forged in life. He tells Scrooge that Scrooge, too, has been forging a chain for himself, which was as long and heavy as Marley's seven years ago and has grown a great deal since then.

The Ghost of Christmas Past

The Ghost of Christmas Past is described as a strange figure, looking at first like a child but then more like an old man "viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished to a child's proportions." The ghost has white hair but is as fresh-faced as a child and has long, muscular arms. It wears a pure white tunic trimmed with summer flowers and carries a holly branch. A jet of light springs from the crown of its head, illuminating everything around it, but this can be extinguished by putting on a cap. The ghost shows Scrooge Christmases from his childhood and youth.

The Ghost of Christmas Present

The Ghost of Christmas Present is a giant,...

(The entire section is 1,058 words.)