illustration of Ebenezer Scrooge in silhouette walking toward a Christmas tree and followed by the three ghosts

A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens

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Student Question

Who invites Scrooge to Christmas dinner in A Christmas Carol?

Quick answer:

In stave 1 of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge's nephew, Fred, comes to Scrooge's office on Christmas Eve to wish Scrooge a merry Christmas and to ask Scrooge to join him, his new wife, and their friends at Christmas dinner.

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In stave 1, "Marley's Ghost," of A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens in 1843, Ebenezer Scrooge's friendly and good-hearted nephew, Fred, comes to Scrooge's counting-house on Christmas Eve to wish Scrooge a merry Christmas and to ask him to "dine with us tomorrow."

"What reason have you to be merry?" Scrooge says to Fred. "You’re poor enough." "What reason have you to be morose?" responds Fred. "You’re rich enough.”

It's during Fred's visit that Scrooge makes the well-known remark which defines his character early in the story.

"If I could work my will,” said Scrooge indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart."

”The "us" to whom Fred refers in his dinner invitation to Scrooge is his new wife, his wife's sisters, and their friends, all of whom appear in stave 3, "The Second of Three Spirits." The Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to Fred's dinner party to show him the happiness, love, and friendship in Fred's household, even though Fred doesn't have very much money.

Scrooge declines Fred's invitation to dinner in no uncertain terms, and he also questions Fred about his marriage.

“Why did you get married?” said Scrooge.

“Because I fell in love.”

“Because you fell in love!” growled Scrooge, as if that were the only one thing in the world more ridiculous than a merry Christmas.

Fred is the son of Scrooge's beloved younger sister, Fan, who appears as a young child in stave 2, "The First of Three Spirits." Many people attribute Scrooge's seeming dislike of Fred to Scrooge's resentment towards him for the death of Fan in childbirth, although there's no evidence in the story to support that interpretation. A reference to Fan's death in A Christmas Carol occurs in stave 2, but there's no mention of Fan dying in childbirth.

“She died a woman,” said the Ghost, “and had, as I think, children.”

“One child,” Scrooge returned.

“True,” said the Ghost. “Your nephew!”

There is, however, a scene between Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past in the 1951 film version of A Christmas Carol, starring Alistair Sim, which was added to the film to explain Scrooge's resentment towards Fred and Scrooge's father's resentment towards Scrooge.

Scrooge remarks to the Ghost of Christmas Past, "She [Fan] died, giving him [Fred] life," to which the Spirit responds, "As your mother died, giving you life, for which your father never forgave you, as if you were to blame." (A Christmas Carol [also known as Scrooge]. Dir. Brian Desmond Hurst. Renown Pictures, 1951, at 26:05–26:30).

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