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A Christmas Carol

What is Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol?

A Christmas Carol is a short Victorian novel written by Charles Dickens and first published in December 1843. It tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge who is well known for his unkind and miserly ways. However, he transforms his character after the visits of four ghosts on Christmas Eve.

Charles Dickens' message in the story is that Christmas is a time for joy and that we should all celebrate life. Also, we should be kind and generous to others, as we have only one chance.

What is the story about?

On Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the spirit of his dead former business partner, Jacob Marley. A further three ghosts follow, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come. They show Scrooge how his miserly and unkind behaviour has affected the people in his life. However, there’s still time to change his mean-spirited ways and we see him change into a kind and generous man.

A short summary

The novella begins on Christmas Eve with Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean and miserly man working in his counting-house. His clerk, Bob Cratchit, is working hard and trying to warm himself over a candle as Scrooge refuses to give him more coal. Scrooge’s nephew Fred pays a visit and invites him to his annual Christmas party. Scrooge spits out an angry "Bah! Humbug!" in response to Fred’s "Merry Christmas!" Two gentlemen also drop by and ask Scrooge for a contribution to their charity and get a bitter unkind reaction.

Later that evening, Scrooge returns home and is visited by the ghost of his old business partner, Jacob Marley. Marley's spirit has been condemned to wander the Earth in heavy chains as punishment for his greedy and self-serving life. However, the spirit hopes to save Scrooge from the same fate and tells him that three spirits will visit over the course of the night.

In the first visit, the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to his previous Christmases with a revisit to his old school days, his apprenticeship with a kindly merchant named Fezziwig, and his engagement to lady called Belle. Belle eventually left Scrooge because his love of money was more than his ability to love people. This deeply moves Scrooge, who flounders with regret before the ghost returns him to his bed.

A majestic giant in a green fur robe, the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge how Christmas will happen that year. Scrooge sees the Cratchit family prepare a paltry feast in their poor home. He discovers courageous Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit's crippled son, whose humility touches Scrooge. The spirit then takes Scrooge to his nephew's Fred’s home to witness the Christmas festivities. Scrooge finds the happy celebrations delightful and pleads with the ghost to stay until the end of the party. The spirit ages as the day passes, becoming noticeably older. At the end of the day, he shows Scrooge two starved children, Ignorance and Want, living under his coat. The ghost disapears as Scrooge notices a hooded figure coming towards him.

In the final visit, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come leads Scrooge through a series of mysterious scenes relating to an unknown man's recent death. Scrooge begs to know the name of the dead man as he sees men trading his personal belongings and businessmen discussing the dead man's wealth. A poverty-stricken couple express relief at the death of their cruel creditor. After pleading with the ghost for the dead man’s name, Scrooge finds himself in a graveyard with the spirit pointing to a headstone. Scrooge reads the stone and is shocked to discover his own name. He desperately pleads with the ghost to alter his fate, promising to change his ways and honour Christmas with all his heart. Suddenly, he finds himself safely back in his bed.

It's Christmas Day, Scrooge is overwhelmed with relief and the chance to change his ways. He sends a giant Christmas turkey to the Cratchit household and then attends his nephew’s party full of the joys of Christmas. As the years go by, Scrooge becomes known as a man who knows how to celebrate Christmas. A changed man, he gives gifts to the poor, looks after Tiny Tim and treats his fellow human beings with kindness and generosity.

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