Lesson Plan: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
II. While Reading: Word Inference
STAVE ONE MARLEY’S GHOST
- Dead as a doornail is one of the many idiomatic similes used for emphasis (to intensify the adjective). Thus, it simply means dead, very dead, quite dead, certainly dead, etc. It can be used figuratively or literally in any context. Source: English Stack Exchange
- executor1 |iɡˈzekyədər| Law noun a person or institution appointed by a testator to carry out the terms of their will.
- solitary|ˈsäləˌterē| adjective-done or existing alone: I live a pretty solitary life | tigers are essentially solitary.
- dismal|ˈdizməl| adjective depressing; dreary: the dismal weather made the late afternoon seem like evening.
- Humbug|ˈhəmˌbəɡ| noun– deceptive or false talk or behavior: his comments are sheer humbug.• a hypocrite: you see what a humbug I am.
- -melancholy |ˈmelənˌkälē| adjective -having a feeling of melancholy; sad and pensive: she felt a little melancholy | the dog has a melancholy expression.
- impenetrable |imˈpenətrəb(ə)l| adjective-1 impossible to pass through or enter: a dark, impenetrable forest.
- shade |SHād| noun –literary a ghost.• (the Shades) the underworld; Hades.
- fettered ˈfedər| noun (usually fetters) a chain or manacle used to restrain a prisoner, typically placed around the ankles: he lay bound with fetters of iron.
- incoherent |ˌinkōˈhirənt| adjective –1 (of spoken or written language) expressed in an incomprehensible or confusing way; unclear: he screamed some incoherent threat.
STAVE TWO THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS
- opaque |ōˈpāk| adjective (opaquer, opaquest) not able to be seen through; not transparent: the windows were opaque with steam.
- groped|ɡrōp| verb –1 [no object] feel about or search blindly or uncertainly with the hands: He got up and groped for his spectacles.
- perplexedpərˈplekst| adjective-completely baffled; very puzzled: she gave him a perplexed look.
- resolved|rəˈzälvdrəˈzôlvd| adjective [predicative, with infinitive] firmly determined to do something: Constance was resolved not to cry.
- recumbent |rəˈkəmbənt| adjective- (especially of a person or human figure) lying down: recumbent statues.
- supernatural |ˌso͞opərˈnaCH(ə)rəl| adjective- (of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature: a supernatural being.
- fluctuated |ˈfləkCHəˌwāt|verb [no object] rise and fall irregularly in number or amount.
- conscious |ˈkän(t)SHəs| adjective-aware of and responding to one’s surroundings; awake.
- unprofitable |ˌənˈpräfədəb(ə)l| adjective-(of an activity) not beneficial or useful: there has been much unprofitable speculation.
- irresistible |ˌi(r)rəˈzistəb(ə)l| adjective -too powerful or convincing to be resisted: she felt an irresistible urge to object.
STAVE THREE THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS
- intervention|ˌin(t)ərˈven(t)SH(ə)n|noun -an occasion on which a person with an addiction or other behavioral problem is confronted by a group of friends or family members in an attempt to persuade them to address the issue: as her health worsened, her daughters considered staging an intervention.
- bade|badbād| past of Bid: |bid| verb (bids, bidding; past bid or bade |bad, bād| archaic or literary command or order (someone) to do something: I did as he bade me.• invite (someone) to do something: he bade his companions enter.
- groveɡrōv| noun-a small wood, orchard, or group of trees: an olive grove | [in place names] : Ocean Grove.
- timidly |ˈtimidlē| adverb- in a manner that shows a lack of courage or confidence: “Will he live?” I asked timidly | he timidly approached the bar.
- mantle|ˈman(t)l| noun 1 a loose sleeveless cloak or shawl.
- sympathy |ˈsimpəTHē| noun (plural sympathies)1 feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune: they had great sympathy for the flood victims.
- cheap|CHēp| adjective —inexpensive because of inferior quality: cheap, shoddy goods.
- prematurely |ˌprēməˈCHo͝orlē| adverb -before the due time; ahead of time: his son died prematurely.
- condensed |kənˈdenst| adjective–1 made denser or more concise; compressed or concentrated: a condensed version of the report.
- prediction|prəˈdikSH(ə)n| noun –a thing predicted; a forecast: a prediction that the Greeks would destroy the Persian empire.
STAVE FOUR THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS
- Phantom|ˈfan(t)əm|noun–a ghost: a phantom who haunts lonely roads | figurative : the centrist and conservative parties were mere phantoms in 1943 | [as modifier] : a phantom ship.
- shrouded |SHroud| verb-a length of cloth or an enveloping garment in which a dead person is wrapped for burial: he was buried in a linen shroud.cover or envelop so as to conceal from view: mountains shrouded by cloud | the mystery that shrouds the origins of the universe.
- spectral|ˈspektrəl| adjective –of or like a ghost.
- agonized |ˈaɡəˌnīzd| adjective –manifesting, suffering, or characterized by great physical or mental pain: she gave an agonized cry | months of agonized discussion.
- dwelling|ˈdweliNG| (also dwelling place) noun formal a house, apartment, or other place of residence.
- faltered|ˈfôltər| verb [no object] –move unsteadily or in a way that shows lack of confidence: he faltered and finally stopped in midstride.
- recollect |ˌrekəˈlekt| verb [with object] remember (something); call to mind: he could not quite recollect the reason | [with clause] : can you recollect how your brother reacted?
- essence|ˈesəns| noun – the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, that determines its character: conflict is the essence of drama.
- conveyed|kənˈvā| verb [with object] communicate (a message or information): Mr. Harvey and his daughter have asked me to convey their very kind regards.
- graves |ɡrāv| noun –a place of burial for a dead body, typically a hole dug in the ground and marked by a stone or mound: the coffin was lowered into the grave.
STAVE FIVE THE END OF IT
- strive |strīv| verb –make great efforts to achieve or obtain something: national movements were striving for independence | [with infinitive] : we must strive to secure steady growth.
- intentions |inˈten(t)SH(ə)n| noun– a thing intended; an aim or plan: she was full of good intentions.
- dispelled dispel |dəˈspel| verb (dispels, dispelling, dispelled) [with object] make (a doubt, feeling, or belief) disappear: the brightness of the day did nothing to dispel Elaine’s dejection.
- extravagance |ikˈstravəɡəns|noun lack of restraint in spending money or use of resources: his reckless extravagance with other people’s money.
- illustrious |iˈləstrēəs| adjective –well known, respected, and admired for past achievements: his illustrious predecessor | an illustrious career.
- loitered |ˈloidər| verb [no object] stand or wait around idly or without apparent purpose: she saw Mary loitering near the cloakrooms.
- earnest |ˈərnəst| adjective –resulting from or showing sincere and intense conviction: an earnest student | two girls were in earnest conversation.
- recompensed |ˈrekəmˌpens| verb [with object] pay or reward (someone) for effort or work: he was handsomely recompensed.
- unanimity |ˌyo͞onəˈnimədē| noun–agreement by all people involved; consensus: there is almost complete unanimity on this issue.
- clapped |klap| verb- (claps, clapping, clapped) [with object] slap (someone) encouragingly on the back or shoulder: as they parted, he clapped Owen on the back.
Questions for Character Analysis
- The story is mainly narrated in the third person. This means that the story is usually told in terms of what a character says or does; “Scrooge never painted out Old Marley’s name.” There are parts in the beginning of the story where the Narrator speaks in the first person; “You will, therefore, permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”
- Ebenezer Scrooge is the protagonist in A Christmas Carol.
- Ebeneezer Scrooge and Bob Crachit (when he was alive) were money-lenders in a counting house. The reason Ebenezer Scrooge was so rich was that he made his living lending other people money and charging high interest.
- His last name (Scrooge) has come into the English language as a negative meaning for people who are miserly and dislike people in general. Scrooge’s catchphrase, “Bah! Humbug!” is often used to express disgust with many modern Christmas traditions.
Descriptions of the main characters in A Christmas Carol are as follows:
Ebenezer Scrooge – The owner of a Counting house in London who is cheap and miserly. He is described in Stave one; “…he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!”
Jacob Marley – He is Ebenezer Scrooge’s deceased business partner, now a chained and tormented ghost, doomed to wander the earth forever as punishment for his greed and selfishness when he was alive.
Fred – Scrooge’s nephew, a genial man who loves Christmas. He invites his uncle to his Christmas party each and every year, only to be refused by the sour Scrooge.
Bob Cratchit – The abused, underpaid clerk of Ebenezer Scrooge (and possibly Jacob Marley, when he was still alive), Cratchit has come to symbolize poor working conditions, especially long working hours.
The Ghost Of Christmas Past – The first spirit to visit Scrooge, a curiously childlike apparition with a glowing head. He takes Scrooge on a tour of Christmases in his past. The spirit uses a cap to dampen the light emanating from his head.
The Ghost Of Christmas Present – The second spirit to visit Scrooge, a majestic giant clad in a green robe. His lifespan is restricted to Christmas Day. He escorts Scrooge on a tour of his contemporaries’ Holiday celebrations.
The Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come – The third and final spirit to visit Scrooge, a silent phantom clad in a hooded black robe. He presents Scrooge with an ominous view of his lonely death.
Fezziwig – The jovial merchant with whom the young Scrooge apprenticed. Fezziwig was renowned for his wonderful Christmas parties.
Belle – A beautiful woman who Scrooge loved deeply when he was a young man. Belle broke off their engagement after Scrooge became consumed with greed and the lust for wealth. She later married another man.
Mrs. Cratchit – Bob’s wife, a kind and loving woman.
Martha Cratchit – Bob’s oldest daughter, who works in a milliner’s shop. (A milliner is a person who designs, produces, and sells hats.)
Tiny Tim – Bob Cratchit’s young son, crippled from birth. Symbolizes all that is good and pure.
Peter Cratchit – Bob’s oldest son, who inherits his father’s stiff-collared shirt for Christmas.
Fan – Scrooge’s sister; Fred’s mother. In Scrooge’s vision of Christmases past, he remembers Fan picking him up from school and walking him home.
The Portly Gentlemen – Two gentlemen who visit Scrooge at the beginning of the tale seeking charitable contributions. Scrooge promptly throws them out of his office. Upon meeting one of them on the street after his visitations, he promises to make lavish donations to help the poor.
Questions for Literary Analysis
The theme in a story is the underlying message the author is trying to convey in the novel or story. There can be several themes in the same story.
Some themes in A Christmas Carol Are:
Greed: When we first meet Scrooge, he is described as being obsessed with money. In the first pages, he is described as a “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner,” primarily because of his greed.
Fear: When the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge his grave, Scrooge is very afraid because he thinks he’s going to die.
Loneliness and isolation:Scrooge’s life is described in Stave one, “Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, “My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?” No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o’clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge…But what did Scrooge care? It was the very thing he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance…”
Compassion and Forgiveness: Primarily Bob Crachit and others forgive Scrooge and demonstrate compassion by inviting Scrooge to have dinner with them at the end of the story.
Transformation: The major change happens to Scrooge especially after he is visited by the three spirits. First a bitter old miser, Scrooge transforms into a man of compassion, kindness and generosity.
The Importance of Family: One main example is the way Bob Cratchit’s family provides a strong support system for him. Stave four: “I am very happy,” said little Bob, “I am very happy!” Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kissed him, the two young Cratchits kissed him, and Peter and himself shook hands. Spirit of Tiny Tim, thy childish essence was from God!”
Imagery is when the author uses figurative language to create ideas or mental pictures in the reader’s mind. Some examples of imagery in a Christmas Carol are:
Stave One: Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire…”
Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern;
Stave Two:“Spirit!” said Scrooge in a broken voice, “remove me from this place.”
“Remove me!” Scrooge exclaimed. “I cannot bear it!”
Stave Three:“There was nothing very cheerful in the climate or the town, and yet was there an air of cheerfulness abroad that the clearest summer air and brightest summer sun might have endeavoured to diffuse in vain. For, the people who were shovelling away on the housetops were jovial and full of glee; exchanging a facetious snowball—better-natured missile far than many a wordy jest—laughing heartily”
Symbolism is when the author uses characters, objects or situations to represent something more than is being described in the story.
Some examples of symbolism in A Christmas Carol:
Scrooge: He symbolizes the greedy bankers and others who preyed upon the poor people during that period.
The Cratchit family: Dickens uses the The Cratchit family to represent the extreme poverty during his time. Like many poor families the Cratchit’s had very little in general.
Tiny Tim Even though he is crippled, he is always presented as good and kind. He symbolizes the importance of forgiving and loving God.
The Ghost of Christmas Present symbolizes all the joy and generosity of Christmas. The spirit bestows blessings upon the poor meals of the families as they pass him.
General Questions For Reflection
How Dickens’ real life affected his writing of A Christmas Carol:
Dickens left school to work in a factory when his father was incarcerated in Marshalsea debtors’ prison.
To pay for his board and to help his family, Dickens was forced to leave school and work ten-hour days at Warren’s Blacking Warehouse.
The Cratchit family is based on Dickens’ childhood home life. He lived in poor circumstances.
In real life Charles Dickens campaigned vigorously for children’s rights, education, and other social reforms in England.
The original publication of A Christmas Carol sold well and provided financial success for Dickens. In addition, At the time Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol Christmas wasn’t commonly celebrated as a festive holiday. After publication, the story helped revive popular interest in many Christmas traditions that are still practiced today. Also, in 1867 Dickens read A Christmas Carol at a public reading in Chicago. Mr. Fairbanks, was a manufacturer who was so moved that he decided to break the custom of opening the factory on Christmas day. Not only did he close the factory onChristmas day, but he gave Christmas turkeys to all of his employees.