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How Christmas Hymns and Carols Have Evolved Over Time

Christmas is a time of joy and celebration, and one of the most beloved traditions during this festive season is singing Christmas hymns and carols. These songs have been passed down from generation to generation, bringing comfort and cheer to people around the world. But have you ever wondered how these hymns and carols have evolved over time? In this article, we will explore the rich history of Christmas music and how it has transformed throughout the years.

Origins of Christmas Hymns and Carols

Christmas hymns and carols have their roots in ancient Christian traditions. The early Christians used music as a way to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. One of the earliest known hymns is “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” which dates back to the 4th century AD. This hymn beautifully expresses the awe and wonder surrounding the nativity story.

During the Middle Ages, Christmas carols began to emerge as a popular form of musical expression. These carols were often sung in churches or during community gatherings. They were typically sung in Latin or local languages, making them accessible to a wider audience.

The Renaissance Period

The Renaissance period marked a significant shift in Christmas music. Composers like Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel composed elaborate choral works that celebrated not only the birth of Christ but also reflected on broader themes such as redemption and hope.

One notable example is Handel’s “Messiah,” which includes the famous Hallelujah chorus. This composition remains one of the most beloved pieces of Christmas music today.

Popularization of Christmas Carols

In the 19th century, there was a resurgence in interest for traditional folk melodies associated with Christmas celebrations. Many well-known carols that we sing today were collected during this time by composers like John Mason Neale and Cecil Sharp.

These composers sought to preserve and popularize traditional carols such as “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Silent Night.” These songs became timeless classics that are still sung in churches, schools, and homes around the world.

Contemporary Christmas Hymns and Carols

In recent years, contemporary artists have contributed to the ever-evolving landscape of Christmas music. They have brought new life to old classics by reimagining them with modern arrangements or composing original songs that capture the spirit of the season.

Artists like Mariah Carey with her hit song “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and Pentatonix with their a cappella renditions of traditional carols have captured the hearts of millions. These songs continue to be played on radio stations and streamed online during the holiday season.

Christmas hymns and carols have evolved over time, reflecting changes in musical styles, cultural influences, and personal interpretations. From their humble beginnings in ancient Christian traditions to their continued popularity in contemporary music, these songs hold a special place in our hearts during the festive season. So whether you find yourself singing along to a traditional carol or jamming out to a modern holiday hit, remember that Christmas music has a rich history that connects us all.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


how to write a good christmas carol essay

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A Christmas Carol by Dickens Essay

A Christmas Carol by Dickens was first published on December 19, 1843. Since its publication, this book, arguably one of his most famous works, has made its mark on American culture and literature. It is difficult to underestimate the significance of A Christmas Carol , which was made into numerous TV and stage versions. Some would even argue that this Dickens’s work invented or rather reinvented Christmas, while others underline the importance of his work for the development of the new forms of literature. This essay aims to discuss the theme and the characters of the book. It starts with a summary of the plot, then examines the main characters and the themes and concludes with the personal opinion on the novella.

Dickens offers a story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a greedy and selfish older man living alone in his London house, whose only concern is money. Scrooge hates Christmas and is indifferent to other people’s suffering, including his workers. However, on Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghost of his business partner and by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. The first ghost takes him on a journey through his past Christmases: one of a miserable and lonely little boy and others of a young man, more interested in gold than in his fiancé. The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge his clerk’s family Christmas, a Christmas evening of a poor, but loving family, and his nephew’s celebrations, where guests mock him for his unfriendliness and greediness. Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Future shows him his own death, which would bring more joy to people who knew him than grief. The terror of this night magically transforms Ebenezer Scrooge into a generous and good-hearted man, kind to his neighbors and eager to help those in need.

The main hero of the book, Ebenezer Scrooge, is characterized mainly by his greediness and by the fear that he creates among people who know him. Charles Dickens describes (1843, 4) him as such: “No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o’clock, no man […] inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge”. Even his clerk is terrified of him and barely dares to speak in his presence. According to Thompson (2017, 269), the descriptions of Scrooge’s personality allude to the Old Testament figure of King Belshazzar, the ruler who loves wealth and who is punished by God for his greed and pride. However, unlike Belshazzar, Scrooge takes advantage of the warning delivered by the Christmas ghosts and changes, fearing the dreadful end that is awaiting him. He accepts to change and declares: “I will not shut out the lessons that they [the Spirits of the Past, the Present and the Future] teach” (Dickens 1843, 57). Thus, he is a sinner, but the night that he goes through makes hem find the strength to change. This magical and radical overnight transformation becomes central to the figure of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Other central figures are the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come. The Ghost of Christmas Past is the first ghost to visit Scrooge; he is quite and rather compassionate towards Scrooge, to whom he shows the pictures of his childhood. The Ghost of Christmas Present is a joyful and vibrant character, wearing a green robe and symbolizing joy and happiness. The third Ghost is the most fearsome one; he wears a black cloak and remains silent during their journey. Although the ghosts have distinct personalities, their common characteristic is their role as the messengers. Their figures also reflect Dickens’ interest in “the narrative possibilities of the communication between the living and the dead” (Wood 2018, 412). Dickens’s interest in the supernatural urges him to experiment with the forms of expression and create the figures of these Spirits to deliver the message to Scrooge.

Another prominent figure is Tiny Tim, who is the most significant figure of childhood in the book. He is a son of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s clerk. He has a disability, but is full of cheer and love and brings a lot of joy to his family. His words – “God bless us every one!” – mark the end of the novella (Dickens 1843, 92). The figure of Tiny Tim reflects the conception of childhood as the stage of innocence, although it is not the only way children are represented in the novella (Robinson 2016, 8). For instance, the readers observe frightening figures of children clinging to the clothes of the Ghost of Christmas Present. Contrary to this image of “figures which are a product of a fallen world (Robinson 2016, 2), Tim is a constant reminder to everyone of the courage in the face of difficulties.

The characters of A Christmas Carol serve to express Dickens’s Christian humanistic views and attitudes. According to Newey (2016, 12), A Christmas Carol is one of the most important works of Charles Dickens in a sense that it “brings into focus many of Dickens’s core concerns and attitudes of mind.” Dickens demonstrates the transformation of a greedy lender with no sympathy to others, which symbolizes capitalist and rationalist values, into the embodiment of Christianity and humanism. The contrast between Dickens’s characters furthers strengthens the differences between two ideologies, the humanistic and the capitalist one. The family of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s clerk, is a model of a loving family, poor in money but rich in heart, while Scrooge himself reflects utilitarian, purely rationalist values. The values of family loyalty, humanism, kindness, are confronted with the rationalism and greediness of the protagonist.

Another theme of the novella is the relationship between the supernatural and the living. As stated above, Dickens’s works have significantly contributed to the development of the Victorian ghost story. His fascination with the supernatural makes him create the powerful figures of the Ghost of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future, who communicate with the protagonist and act as the messengers of the divine. This communication between the living and the supernatural is central to the plot. This theme reoccurs in Dickens’s works, for instance, in “The Signalman,” although in total, it is present in about 18 Dickens’s stories. The critical result of the supernatural intervention is that it leads to change and transforms the protagonist.

Although often presented as a children’s story, Dickens’s novella A Christmas Carol tells a reader a lot about Dickens’s attitudes and views about the world. This novella promotes the humanistic ideology based on Christian values: love, empathy, and generosity. Moreover, the author experiments with literary forms and contributes to the development of the ghost story. The supernatural plays a central role in the transformation of the main hero. However, the idea that the protagonist needs supernatural intervention in order to change might be problematic for the humanistic perspective that is centered on the agency of human beings. The humanistic perspective stresses the inherently good qualities of human nature, which is contradictory to the idea that supernatural intervention is necessary in order to bring change.

Newey, Vincent. 2016. The Scriptures of Charles Dickens: Novels of Ideology, Novels of the Self. New York: Routledge.

Robinson, David E. 2016. “Redemption and the Imagination of Childhood: Dickens’s Representation of Children in A Christmas Carol.” Literator 37 (1): 1-8. doi:10.4102/lit. v37i1.1307

Thompson, Terry W. 2017. “The Belshazzar Allusion in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.” The Explicator 75 (4): 268-270. doi:10.1080/00144940.2017.1389683

Wood, Claire. 2018. “Playful Spirits: Charles Dickens and the Ghost Story.” In The Routledge Handbook to the Ghost Story, edited by Scott Brewster and Luke Thurston, 87-96. New York: Routledge.

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Home — Essay Samples — Literature — Books — A Christmas Carol

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Essays on A Christmas Carol

Prompt examples for "a christmas carol" essays, redemption and transformation.

Discuss the theme of redemption and transformation in "A Christmas Carol." How does Ebenezer Scrooge's journey from a miserly and cold-hearted man to a generous and compassionate one illustrate the possibility of change and personal growth?

The Impact of the Ghosts

Analyze the roles and symbolism of the three spirits—Past, Present, and Future—in the novella. How do they influence Scrooge's understanding of his own life and the consequences of his actions? Discuss the lessons imparted by each ghost.

Social Critique and Poverty

Examine Charles Dickens' critique of social inequality and poverty in Victorian England. How does the novella shed light on the hardships faced by the poor and the indifference of the wealthy? Discuss the contrast between Scrooge's wealth and the Cratchit family's poverty.

The Symbolism of Christmas

Discuss the symbolism of Christmas in the novella. How does the holiday represent themes of joy, love, and goodwill, and how is it contrasted with Scrooge's initial disdain for it? Analyze the significance of the Cratchits' celebration.

Scrooge's Character Development

Analyze the growth and development of Ebenezer Scrooge as a character. How do his experiences with the spirits and the visions of his past, present, and future shape his personality and actions? Discuss the factors that lead to his transformation.

The Role of Tiny Tim

Explore the significance of the character Tiny Tim in the novella. How does his vulnerability and need for assistance highlight the importance of compassion and social responsibility? Discuss the impact of Tiny Tim on Scrooge's transformation.

Hook Examples for "A Christmas Carol" Essays

Anecdotal hook.

"As I delved into the heartwarming tale of Scrooge's redemption and transformation, I couldn't help but reflect on the timeless message of generosity, compassion, and the power of second chances."

Rhetorical Question Hook

"What does it take for a miserly old man to undergo a profound change of heart and rediscover the true spirit of Christmas? Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' invites us to explore themes of redemption and the human capacity for change."

Startling Quote Hook

"'I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.' Ebenezer Scrooge's vow serves as a poignant reminder of the novella's enduring message of goodwill and transformation."

Historical Hook

"Set in Victorian London during a period of social and economic upheaval, 'A Christmas Carol' provides a window into the challenges and inequalities of the time. Exploring this historical context adds depth to the narrative."

Narrative Hook

"Join Ebenezer Scrooge on his extraordinary journey through the past, present, and future as he confronts his own life choices. This narrative captures the essence of Charles Dickens' storytelling."

Character Transformation Hook

"Witness Scrooge's remarkable transformation from a cold-hearted miser to a benevolent soul. Analyzing the character arc adds depth to the narrative."

Moral Lessons Hook

"What moral lessons can we learn from the experiences of Scrooge and the spirits? Exploring the ethical dimensions of the novella prompts reflection on our own values and actions."

Christmas Spirit Hook

"How does 'A Christmas Carol' capture the essence of the holiday spirit? Delving into the themes of generosity, family, and community sheds light on the novella's enduring appeal."

Social Commentary Hook

"In a time marked by social disparities, 'A Christmas Carol' serves as a commentary on the plight of the poor and the responsibilities of the wealthy. Examining the novella's social impact offers valuable insights."

Dickens' Literary Legacy Hook

"How does 'A Christmas Carol' contribute to Charles Dickens' literary legacy? Exploring the novella's place in Dickens' body of work reveals its enduring significance in literature and culture."

Generosity Theme in "A Christmas Carol"

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Morality in a Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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Charles Dickens’ a Christmas Carol Vs. Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone

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19 December 1843, Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas

Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, Jacob Marley, The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Fred, Fezziwig, Belle, Peter Cratchit, Martha Cratchit, Fan, The Portly Gentlemen, Mrs. Cratchit

1. Jaffe, A. (1994). Spectacular sympathy: visuality and ideology in Dickens's A Christmas Carol. PMLA, 109(2), 254-265. (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/pmla/article/abs/spectacular-sympathy-visuality-and-ideology-in-dickenss-a-christmas-carol/5B6363CBCC63BF021719079F3B1269BB) 2. Davis, P. (1990). Literary History: Retelling A Christmas Carol: Text and Culture-Text. The American Scholar, 59(1), 109-115. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/41211762) 3. Butterworth, R. D. (1993). 'A Christmas Carol'and the masque. Studies in short fiction, 30(1), 63-70. (https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA14085617&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=00393789&p=AONE&sw=w&userGroupName=anon%7E3330b394) 4. Rossetti, C. G. (1887). A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Hobby horse, x-xi. (https://www.proquest.com/openview/b179c1c578656647/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=14714) 5. Ferrari, A., Signoroni, S., Silva, M., Gaggiotti, P., Veneroni, L., Magni, C., ... & Massimino, M. (2017). “Christmas Balls”: a Christmas carol by the adolescent cancer patients of the Milan Youth Project. (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.5301/tj.5000597?journalCode=tmja) 6. Hancock, P. (2016). A Christmas carol: A reflection on organization, society, and the socioeconomics of the festive season. (https://journals.aom.org/doi/abs/10.5465/amr.2016.0038?journalCode=amr) 7. Hancher, M. (2008). Grafting A Christmas Carol. SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, 48(4), 813-827. (https://muse.jhu.edu/pub/1/article/254074/summary) 8. Burleson, D. R. (1992). Dickens's a Christmas Carol. The Explicator, 50(4), 211-212. (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00144940.1992.9935321?journalCode=vexp20) 9. Preston, S. (2012). Existential Scrooge: A Kierkegaardian Reading of A Christmas Carol. Literature Compass, 9(11), 743-751. (https://compass.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1741-4113.2012.00909.x)

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how to write a good christmas carol essay

A Christmas Carol Essay

how to write a good christmas carol essay

A Christmas Carol

The play “A Christmas Carol” was written by Charles John Huffam Dickens, playwright who was born on February 7,1813. Charles was a English writer and also a social critic, he created some of the best fictional characters that people know today. Charles is recognized as one of the greatest novelist of the Victorian Era. Charles wrote 15 novels , 5 novellas, hundreds of short stories and lots of other things. Charles left school early to work at a factory to provide for him and his family, but his

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. In this extract we are presented with Scrooge. From the beginning Scrooge is presented as a miser. In the extract we find out that he is an old, rude and ignorant man that doesn’t appreciate others around him. Dickens uses different language techniques to describe Scrooges appearance as clear as possible. In the opening paragraph Dickens uses imagery to create a vivid impression of Scrooge. He is described as ‘a tight-fisted hand at the grind-stone’, and this

Analysis Of A Christmas Carol

Have you ever thought of Christmas as a humbug, or just another ordinary day? Probably not, but if you were to ask Ebenezer Scrooge (from A Christmas Carol), his response to Christmas would be “Bah, Humbug.” Just after we finished reading the book A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, last week, on December 1, 2017, my classmates and I went to see a live performance of A Christmas Carol at Actors Theatre of Louisville. The play was adapted by Barbara Field, and directed by Drew Fracher. In this essay

Scrooge in A Christmas Carol

  • 7 Works Cited

In a time in which the significance of Christmas gradually started to change, Charles Dickens, in accordance with these changes, wrote a Christmas tale: A Christmas Carol. The novella was published six days in advance of the Christmas celebrations of 1843; it was sold out three days later. Although a socially engaged narrative, Dickens’ work is not occupied with trivialities such as the introduction of Christmas cards; instead A Christmas Carol focuses on the transforming beliefs and values

With each Ghost's tale functioning as a moral story, Dickens demonstrates the Christian moral ideals associated with Christmas such as; generosity, kindness, and a universal love for your community which follows the same moral landscape of Victorian England in general. The novel focuses more on a modern view of Christmas that is less concerned with religious ceremony and emphasizes more on joyous traditions like the sharing of gifts, festive celebrations, exhibitions of prosperity. The idea that

Spirits In The Christmas Carol

In the Christmas Carol there are a lot of differences here are some. In the drama all the spirits of Christmas are women and in the book you don’t know the genders other than the male christmas present. It’s not a big deal but the Cratchits are different races in the drama they are African American and in the book they’re Caucasian. In the book the first sign of Seeing spirits is Jacob Marley’s face on the door and in the drama you don’t get to see that so you miss a detail of entertainment. These

A Christmas Carol Analysis

Assessment Task 1 10/X/2017 A Christmas Carol After reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens I would not help but associate this story with how I envision the Realism period. I have learned, through my research, that authors during the Realism period often wrote about struggles that resulted directly revolutions of the period. My initial thoughts on this story were that the author wanted to use Scrooge to symbolize greediness of people during the Christmas season and the negative direction

Allusions In The Christmas Carol

The Christmas Carol is a magnificent movie which shows Ebenezar Scrooge a grumpy old man who changes his future. Ebenezar will go on a magical journey where he will see his past, present, and future with the help of the ghosts of past, present, and future, which changes Scrooge for the better. In the Christmas Carol you find many allusions, metaphors, allegories, paradoxes, personifications. An example of a foreshadowing would be of how Mr. Scrooge is an old grumpy and gloomy man, and while I

published A Christmas Carol in 1843, in part as an attempt to garner some success, and also as an attempt to convince the masses of kindness and charity at Christmas time. While it did not gain him commercial success, the legacy this story has left, succeeded in inspiring our society to give a little more at Christmas time. Nowadays, the story has become synonymous with Christmas. It would be hard to imagine a Christmas without some adaptation of Dickens masterpiece. As A Christmas Carol is one of

money, but in who and what you are lucky enough to posses. In “A Christmas Carol”, Ebenezer Scrooge is an elderly, lonely and pessimistic man who cares about nothing more than his money. However, while experiencing 3 separate encounters with 3 Christmas ghosts, he evolves into something different. Some might say he is a Santa Claus-like character by the end; jolly, caring and most of all, grateful. Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, adapted by Israel Horovitz Scrooge teaches readers that you should

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A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol Essay.

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Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is a morality tale of a selfish and bitter Ebenezer Scrooge and his visits from 3 spirits representing his past, present and future, bringing him into a complete change of character and reconciliation for his wrongs. It is based in a gloomy social divided 19 th  century London. The story is split between 5 staves (chapters). For my essay I will explore the language techniques such as repetition, exaggeration, similes, pathetic fallacy etc that Dickens has used to establish and illustrate his points and views through the story A Christmas Carol.

One technique Dickens successfully merged into the story structure is pathetic fallacy. In the first stave negative points of the weather is used to describe scrooges character, such as “The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect”, Dickens did this to give the reader an insight into scrooge, so they see how much of a cold person he is and how upon meeting him themselves his presence would be like harsh weather. The use of pathetic fallacy could also be linked to scrooge himself, rain, snow, hail and sleet are all weather conditions that are cold themselves and bring a chill through those who experience them, that could also be said for Scrooge. Scrooge himself is a cold person, so he brings about a cold atmosphere around him and spreads his coldness to others through the way he treats them.

In the last stave Dickens use of pathetic fallacy is switched completely from negative to positive. He does this through a dramatic change of how the weather is described, phrases such as “No fog, no mist”. By saying there is no fog or mist in the sky, it is meaning that the harshness of the weather has gone and there is nice weather that remains now, which represents all the unpleasantness and nasty points of scrooges character have vanished, and to show the reader that his character has transformed, and that he is a changed, good person. Dickens wanted to show two completely different types of pathetic fallacy to create a contrast between scrooge in the first and last stave that the reader can obviously see.

Dickens use of adjectives in the first stave describes scrooge’s character very negatively. Phrases such as “his eyes red, his thin lips blue” are used to describe scrooge’s appearance. This brings the reader to think of scrooge as an ugly man. Under typical thinking the reader may link his appearance to his personality and think of him as an all-round nasty and vulgar man. Dickens did this to strengthen the opinion of scrooge for the reader and sets them up for a big contrast between the first and last staves.

Dickens use of adjectives changes dramatically in the last stave. Phrases such as “He looked so irresistibly pleasant” are used to describe scrooge. Scrooges appearance has seemed to also transform somewhat to the first stave, as if along with his personality, now all the evil and nastiness has been taken out his appearance has adjusted to that as well. The reader now sees scrooge in a completely different light, now that his personality and his appearance has changed he is now seen as a completely transformed person.

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Dickens use of adverbs/verbs in the first stave describes scrooge’s character very negatively. Words such as “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping” are used to describe scrooge, the words link to how tight he is with his money, and how money hungry he is. The verbs themselves sound quite threatening, and so the reader would feel threatened towards such a person as he. Dickens wanted to create a negative view of scrooge for the reader and so by using verbs that describe his actions in a dramatically negative way and make him sound like a money-mongering all around bad person.

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In the last stave Dickens describes and makes scrooges actions sound much brighter and positive in comparison to his actions in the first stave with the use of nicer verbs/adverbs. Verbs such as “fluttered and so glowing” were used to describe scrooge’s actions. The words themselves fluttered and glowing are positive and sound nice, Dickens used words like this to add to scrooges newly found self, and for the reader to see along with a better appearance and transformed personality; his actions are also positive and nice. The term glowing could also be linked with the warmness and the renewing of his character; instead of bringing a dark atmosphere around with him, a certain glow is around him bringing to light to others of his change within himself.

Dickens wanted to put across this idea of rich people being selfish, un-compassionate people. As in Victorian society a blatant social divide of the rich and poor was evident. A sense that people in high society had was that they were more important than those poorer than themselves, and so they’re greed kept their money and anything they had to share was kept to themselves. Dickens’ also shows the appreciation and happiness of the little poor people had and how infact they were richer in life than the rich people were in their wealth.  He uses this with the example to Bob Cratchit’s family with such remarks as “Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart's content.” This shows an emotion not seen in the cold-hearted representation of rich people in A Christmas Carol.

Similes are another language technique that dickens has developed and used to create a dramatic sense of scrooges character. A simile used to describe scrooge for example is “Hard and sharp as flint” this gives the impression that scrooge himself is a person with a hard exterior, almost impenetrable for emotion to break through. He is sharp within the sense of his wit, he talks down to those he opposes and with his sharp wit attacks them verbally, such as where he talks to his nephew and says “What reason have you to be merry?  You're poor enough” this shows the sharpness in his tongue, and the nastiness in his personality. This sort of use of simile gives the reader something to compare scrooge to, and so see deeper into his personality. Here is another simile from the first stave “solitary as an oyster”   an oyster lives on it’s own at the bottom of the ocean isolated, this idea of loneliness could be linked to scrooge. Oysters are also cocooned within a shell; this connects with the thought of scrooge hiding behind a self indulgent front and not letting anyone in emotionally.

Dickens changes his use of simile in the last stave to suit scrooges newly found nice character; this shows a variance between the two opposites in scrooge’s personality in the two staves. For example, here is a simile that describes scrooge in the last stave “I am as happy as an angel” that simile sounds very positive in contrast to ones in the first stave. To say he’s as happy as an angel links into how before he wasn’t happy and his own atmosphere was depressing, but now he is happy and not just happy but as happy as an angelic creature. This shows the reader that scrooge is rejoicing in sight of his own change in character, and how they should feel happy to in response to that.

Repetition is another key technique used to dramatically describe scrooge’s character. A word repeated many times in the first few paragraphs is “dead” with this an instant negative mood is brought upon the reader. With it repeated so many times it keeps the text itself to a low mood, and with the other language techniques combined it makes the reader grasp the pessimistic atmosphere. The word “dead” itself could link to scrooge, as scrooge himself could be seen as dead on the inside, due to his complete lack of emotion shown to anything.

Repetition is used in the same way in the last stave but in a different meaning, not to severely show the bad atmosphere but to highlight and create a positive atmosphere towards the overall affect on the reader. Here is a word repeated often in the last stave “chuckle”. This is a cheerful and enthusiastic word that fits in with scrooge’s new change of character. It makes the reader feel that scrooge is now a humorous person, which he never was before and therefore he has obviously changed.

Scrooges views on Christmas vary between the first and last stave, In the first stave he appears to despise Christmas, and those who think of it as merry, for example he says this to his nephew Bob Cratchit in response to him asking to come round for Christmas dinner “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” this shows his reluctance against Christmas and makes the reader think that if such a person hates Christmas, a merry and happy time of the year they themselves must be a nasty person. On the other hand they may want to delve deeper into scrooges character, and maybe think why does this man hate Christmas so much? And so wait to find out until they reach an opinion. Dickens idea was to present people of high society as uncompassionate people, and because Christmas is a time to show love and compassion towards others Dickens uses that against scrooges character and makes him hate Christmas, and so that represents the people of high society in that stereotype as cold uncompassionate people, as wanted by Dickens.

In the last stave scrooges view on Christmas appears to have completely changed and reformed into a love of it. For example when he wakes up after all the spirits have visited him he says “A merry Christmas to everybody!” which of course he would have never said before seriously and meant it. This shows the reader that scrooge’s new character has awakened and therefore loves Christmas, and wishes a merry Christmas to all. Dickens created Scrooges love of Christmas to show a comparison between scrooge’s opinions on Christmas, so the reader can see that along with scrooge’s turn of character he is truly a changed man who now loves Christmas.

Dickens uses exaggeration to create a dramatic emphasis of an atmosphere or scrooge’s character, the meaning for it varies between the first and last stave. For the first stave it is used to emphasize the gloomy mood, for example  there is a long list of verbs that describe scrooge and his actions, here is a section of that list “grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous” this directly hits the reader with a settled opinion on scrooge, and makes them think of him as an awfully negative person. He may not be all these things, but in the readers eyes he is exaggerated to be a somewhat inhumanly, horrible and tightfisted man. For that is what dickens’ believed people like  scrooge and within his high class in society to be in the 19 th  century, and so to give the reader a bias view he used exaggeration to exaggerate scrooges actions in a way the reader would be manipulated into believing that that is what rich people were like.

Exaggeration is used in an intensely positively way in the last stave in contrast to the first stave. The phrase “as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world” is an exaggerated phrase, because of course he isn’t the nicest man in the world, but to the reader he appears to be through pushing this idea to them through exaggeration. Dickens wanted the reader to believe that scrooge had become a new person in complete reconciliation for his past-self, and did so by using exaggeration as a language technique to give an obvious contrast between scrooges transformation.

The change of tone and attitude of scrooges character changes dramatically between the first and last stave, this is shown by the way he acts towards others, and how they perceive his as a person. In the first stave for example it says “No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle” this means that no beggars would bother asking him for anything, as they already know what his response would be, a blatant no. This also links to Dickens’ views on people in high society, he regarded them as selfish and tight people, because during the massive social divide in his lifetime people in rich situations in his opinion were selfish and tight and so to spread his views across he used scrooges character and by showing a beggars negative reaction to scrooge. That shows the divide between the two people, high and low class and a disrespect and tightness from high to low. This makes the reader think that scrooge is a selfish, mean man. Dickens uses scrooges attitude towards others so let the readers form an opinion of how they would react to scrooges character themselves.

Scrooges tone and attitude in the last stave reflects his change of character deeply. Because he is of course a changed man his attitude towards others changed also with that. For example as he is asking a young boy to buy him a turkey he says “Come back with him in less than five minutes and I'll give you half-a-crown." This shows his newly found generosity, as before he would have never given anything willingly to anyone. This helps towards the reader adjusting their opinion of scrooge, and believes that if he is kind to others he must be a kind and changed person himself.

The Young Vic performance showed a modern twist of A Christmas carol . Scrooge was played by a woman in a South African setting, I believe having a woman play scrooge is to show that now that there is a near equality between men and women; women can become in a position like scrooge, have money to themselves and be selfish with it. The story explores Aid’s, prostitution, poverty etc, this highlighted the contrast between old and modern society by exploring these issues from today’s world, this is important because it demonstrates the moral of A Christmas carol  in relevance to today.

In conclusion I believe the moral behind Christmas carol is that in a social divided community it is important to treat everyone the same. This is shown through scrooge’s character, and how he treats people somewhat below him in the social hierarchy as a man quite high in society and how he treats them after he has been visited by the spirits. I think that the moral is still of relevance to today’s world, although there is a large time difference between now and then there still are social divides throughout society, weather it be financially or through the new celebrity status’s there are or anything else, so it is still important to withhold the belief that everyone has the right to be treated the same, rich or poor, famous or not famous. Equality is something that should be of relevance though any time, weather it is a problem or something newly found, it is an issue and still will be until there is complete equality for all.  

A Christmas Carol Essay.

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Sample exam question - AQA A Christmas Carol - Planning your answer

The following question will help you prepare essays and practice for exams. Try re-writing each example in your own words, making improvements as you go.

A Christmas Carol - Planning your answer

It is always a good idea to plan your answer before you begin writing. Having a plan means you will leave space to make all the points you want to, rather than risk running out of ideas. A plan will mean you answer the question in a logical manner. You must also refer to the examiner's assessment objectives to ensure you have met the criteria.

Here is a plan you could use for your answer:

  • Introduction - how is Scrooge presented?
  • Point 1 - the way Scrooge is behaving.
  • Point 2 - the way Scrooge talks.
  • Point 3 - how this compares to Scrooge at the start of the novella.
  • Conclusion - summarise your points.

Sample answers

Here are two sample answers that refer to Point 2 of the essay plan.

Sample answer 1

Scrooge is shown as being happy in this extract from the end of the novella. We know this because Dickens uses the word 'cried' instead of something negative like 'muttered' or 'grumbled'. This shows that Scrooge is excited. He says that he is 'as light as a feather' which suggests that he is feeling happy and weightless. He also cheers, saying 'Whoop!' and 'Hallo!' which shows how he is much more joyous than at the start of the story.

Feedback comments - good, but could be improved

  • This answer shows that the candidate understands the character and has some sense of how language is used to convey meaning. However, a clearer explanation of the literary techniques used would be useful. For example, showing how the similes are used in the extract.
  • The candidate identifies that the extract is from the end of the novella and briefly compares it to the presentation of Scrooge at the start. An improved answer would make more detailed comparisons, focusing on the actual language used in the text.
  • Correct spelling and punctuation is used. For a higher level, more sophisticated language and use of technical language is needed.

Sample answer 2

In this extract from the end of the novella, we see Scrooge as a reformed character. Where he is described as 'tight-fisted' and 'grasping' in Stave I, in this final section we see him as 'light as a feather'. The similes that Scrooge uses in his dialogue show how cheerful he is. They are clichéd ideas that carry a sense of his new carefree spirit. When we first met Scrooge his repeated expression was a gloomy 'Bah!' and a dismissive 'Humbug!' showing the reader that he was mean-spirited. Here, however, he is changed to a man who cheerfully cries 'Whoop!' and 'Hallo!' and even 'Merry Christmas!' The onomatopoeia of 'Whoop!' carries a sense of his joy and the repeated exclamation marks add to the presentation of a man caught up in a child-like joy.

Feedback comments - much improved!

  • The expression here is more sophisticated. Sentences are complex and ideas are confidently conveyed.
  • The candidate makes use of literary terminology and explores the effects of language on the reader.
  • Comparisons with earlier parts of the novella are integrated in the response.
  • Candidate refers to structure in mentioning 'Stave I' and could expand on this further.
  • Reference to historical context would make this an even better answer.

Read over the Assessment Objectives again. Then use the plan and everything you have learned in this revision section to write your own timed answer.

More guides on this topic

  • Plot summary - AQA
  • Characters - AQA
  • Themes - AQA
  • Form, structure and language - AQA

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