A Christmas Carol


Charles Dickens

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Themes and Colors
Past, Present and Future – The Threat of Time Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Greed, Generosity and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christmas and Tradition Theme Icon
Social Dissatisfaction and the Poor Laws Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Christmas Carol, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Past, Present and Future – The Threat of Time

Three ghosts appear to Scrooge to show him how he is living sinfully and what the consequences will be if he doesn’t choose to live a better life. The three-part ghost story shows the reader a clear path – sins in Scrooge’s past leading to his present misery and the continuation of that sin leading in the future to death, symbolized by the hooded figure. Each ghost shows Scrooge a vision of life gone wrong…

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The entrance of Scrooge’s nephew Fred at the beginning of the story introduces another side to the miser. Scrooge is not unfortunate in the way of relatives – he has a family awaiting his presence, asking him to dinner, wanting to celebrate the season with him, yet he refuses. This is one of the important moral moments in the story that helps predict Scrooge’s coming downfall. It shows how Scrooge makes choices to prolong…

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Greed, Generosity and Forgiveness

Scrooge is a caricature of a miser, greedy and mean in every way. He spends all day in his counting house looking after his money but is so cheap that he keeps his house in darkness, his fire small and allows no extravagance even on Christmas day. But we soon learn that he is the most impoverished character – he is lacking love, warmth and the spirit of Christmas, all of which make lives like…

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Get the entire A Christmas Carol LitChart as a printable PDF.
A Christmas Carol PDF

Christmas and Tradition

A Christmas Carol was published as a Christmas story, and takes the form of a Christian morality tale containing a moral lesson that the highly religious and traditional English population of Dickens’ time would enjoy. Its structure, with five “staves” instead of chapters, is a metaphor for a simple song, with a beginning, middle and end. Dickens uses the idea of singing to connect the story to the joyful Christian traditions of the season…

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Social Dissatisfaction and the Poor Laws

A Christmas Carol has attracted generations of readers with its clear parable-like structure and compelling ghost story. It’s a moral tale that has proven timeless, but Dickens also wrote the story with a very present problem in mind, and his structure was designed to make the real issues of Victorian London stand out and provide greater awareness in the reading masses. For instance, the two gentlemen that ask for Scrooge’s charity are kindly but…

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