This work, the first of a series of Annual Christmas books, was written in 1843. This story reflects Dicken’s “ concern over the evils of industrialism and with the need for social reform. They also reveal his belief in the goodness of human nature and his active interest in many aspects of contemporary English life”.
The term “a carol” stresses the change in Scrooge, the protagonist :at the beginning of the story he sends away some young boys who want to sing a Christmas song for him; later he will be pleased to hear one: this is the right reaction because a carol is a song of joy so as his conversion.
The story is told with a third person narration; the narrator (who makes personal comments too) tells us the story of Ebenezer Scrooge.
it begins with a personal introduction of the narrator (perhaps the author himself) who makes a preface to summarize quickly past events.
The point of view, external to the action, changes at the beginning of the story: after a few lines in first person narration we can find the third person narration up to the end where there are some lines containing a wish of the narrator, and anticipating future developments
The actions do not take place in a single setting.
The places are realistic – the office, the street, the house – but they are put in an dream like atmosphere because they are evoked by the Spirits. They are many because each Spirit takes Scrooge to several places.
In general the author describes this places and gives a lot of details. The actions take place inside. Only the first and the last images evoked take place outside: the countryside and the graveyard. The setting influences Scrooge because it is linked to memories or fears.
Mr Ebenezer Scrooge – The first presentation of the protagonist is made directly by the narrator who presents him under a psychological point of view. The dialogues are very important because through them we can notice the gradual change in Scrooge’s mind.
He is quite old, cold man, self-contained, unmarried and solitary as an oyster. He has created his life avoiding all the things that everybody loves because he considers them simply nonsense (for example, Christmas day ). When he was a child he suffered and loved, but now he seems to have no feelings, he does not care about anything. He never reflects on his past. He has everything he wants: money and quietness; he does not care about the problems of the world more than what is necessary in order to have a clear conscience. After the spirits’ visit he begins to change . He can now see how many people hate him because he has hurt them but also how many people try to respect him and observing people he begins to change his behaviour
Marley’s Ghost – Marley was Scrooge’s associate. His appears to him and tells him that what he is doing is wrong and dangerous» for his eternal life.. When he was alive he was similar to Scrooge greedy, selfish, he used to make the same mistakes Scrooge is making. The Ghost appears: his body is transparent preceded by strange noise “of bell” and chains. Marley himself made it when he was alive and selfish. The Ghost wants to save his friend or at least to warn him by using three Spirits: with them Scrooge visits his past life, his present life and his future life.
The Spirits – Marley shows Scrooge many people who were selfish and bad during life, who now are suffering the consequences: they are flying and crying in the night.
The first of the Spirits is the Ghost of Christmas Past: an old man diminished to a child’s proportions. His hair is white, his face; he carries a cap and he uses it to hide his light when he is unhappy. Scrooge cannot bear this light and at the end of his “voyage” with the Spirit he will use the cap to hide and extinguish it. The Spirit shows him “the shadows of the thing that nave been”; he stresses the first step of Scrooge’s conversion because he begins to have regrets.
The second of the Spirits is the Ghost of Christinas Present: he is a jolly giant who carries a torch and holds it up to shed the light on Scrooge. He wears
a simple deep green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur; he has dark brown curls long and free”.
The Ghost shows Scrooge images of the Present Christmas and while Scrooge remains unaltered the Ghost grows older because his life upon this globe is very brief. Before going away he shows Scrooge two yellow, meagre, wolfish children who are the personification of Ignorance and Want and they are Man’s children. This is another lesson for Scrooge.
The last of the Spirit is the Ghost of Christmas yet to come: he never talks to Scrooge, he only shows him event relating to his future. Scrooge can see his grave and he is desperate because he is repentant but he thinks he will not be able to change anything.
The Spirits are presented through the narrator’s description: they are seen through Scrooge’s eyes.
there are the shadows of the things that have been or that will be and there are also people of the present – Scrooge’s nephew, his clerk, his ex-lover and a lot of people he does not know. They represent remorse, regrets and also hopes and therefore they are not realistic characters but personifications of various aspects of life. Scrooge changed after he has met them during his three voyages with the Spirits.
The story covers the time from Scrooge’ childhood to his death (only evoked). All this period is lived (or relived) by Scrooge in a dream that lasts one night. In fact the story begins the day before Christmas and finishes an Christmas day morning.
Within each period the events follow a chronological order and they only give select particulars of Scrooge’s life in each period. There is one detail that all the events told have in common: the celebration of Christmas. The story focuses on avarice and selfishness linked to a period of expiation. Dickens uses supernatural elements under the influence of Gothic fiction. Nevertheless the supernatural element does not create an atmosphere of fear or anguish. Only the last Spirit gives am impression of hopelessness.
It seems that the supernatural element are part of human reality: it is something that stands above reality that controls the life of man and intervenes when something negative can be changed.
Nobody is completely aware of this presence or perhaps everybody guesses at it but no one wants to admit it. The Spirits are “benign” ghosts because they do not want to do any harm but they want to help.
They can travel in time and space, and evoke images from various period of the main character’s life.
They can involve a man and it is not necessary that he immediately believes in them.
The world described by Dickens is the world of the middle class, their practical mind cannot accept these strange phenomena but they are a part of human life and they can appear in every moment
The language is typical of the period: not very difficult, with detailed descriptions. The words aim at creating a gloomy atmosphere, but the tone is colloquial: the story seems to be a fairly tale told by “a bachelor uncle “ told with an irony or comic language