Christmas Carol

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How does the writer, Charles Dickens, show the changes in the character of Ebenezer Scrooge, in the novella ‘A Christmas Carol’? Pay special attention to language and social, historical and literary context. Focus on Stave 1 and Stave 5.

Written for children, or as a “pot-boiler”, Dickens’ novella “A Christmas Carol” is intended to deliver a message to the readership of the time… The novella’s themes are still relevant today…
In the novella ‘A Christmas Carol’, Ebenezer Scrooge changes dramatically; the writer Charles Dickens shows this in various way using language devices, narrative voice, symbolism and other techniques.

Historical Context

Dickens’ life.
What life was like for the poor in Victorian London.
Explain what Dickens wanted to teach his readers and why. •Are these messages primarily aimed at children or adults?

Section 1 - Structure

What is the significance of it being divided into “Staves” not chapters? •What is the narrative voice like? How does this persuade the reader that Dickens’ message is relevant? (First person, use of humour, use of idioms, direct address, self referencing etc”

From the outset, Dickens’ use of language draws the reader into his morality tale. This novella carries a moral message about the power of charity, generosity and redemption and of how these qualities are particularly important at Christmas time; the season people are, perhaps, the most generous and show the sort of Victorian family values Dickens encourages in his readership. As a story for children and a morality tale, Dickens avoids lecturing his audience by making playful use of language and by creating believable characters in a scenario that, though unlikely, is made believable through the controlled use of the first person narrator. Dickens delivers a very serious message through the change the reader can see in the character of Scrooge. He does, however, take time to establish a lively narrative voice and set the scene through skilled use of language before detailing the change in Scrooge’s character. The opening sentence of the novella is ‘Marley was dead, to begin with’. This is an intriguing opening sentence that the narrator then expands upon in comic fashion. By listing the evidence that supports the death of Marley, Dickens appears to show he shares the reader’s surprise at the situation. Dickens then uses repetition to highlight the fact that Marley is dead as the writer states ‘as dead as a doornail’ several times. This colloquial, idiomatic language suggests that the narrator is telling an interesting story to his or her peers rather than talking down to the audience. This helps to deliver the message of the novella in a way that is not condescending to children. By going on to discuss and question his own use of language and use of the idiomatic “Dead as a doornail” in the next paragraph, Dickens continues the initial playful tone and shows that the novella has enough innovation to appeal to adults as well as children. This is a crucial point. Although often considered a children’s story, the improvement in Victorian social conditions was a task that could more easily be achieved, in the short term at least, by adults. This beginning sets up the tone of the novella. The narrator’s initial honesty and incredulity positions the reader to accept the extraordinary events that follow and to see the change in the character of Scrooge as being both plausible and desirable.

Section 2 - Stave 1 - Scrooge the Cold Hearted Miser

How does Dickens use non-finite verbs to show Scrooges character at the outset of the novella?

After this, an extensive list of non-finite verbs is used to describe him as, ‘a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, and clutching, covetous old sinner!’ Dickens foreshadows a lot about Scrooge’s character in this list by not just describing him but giving the impression that the heartless characteristics are infinite and therefore don’t stop. For...
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