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.
Family Theme Icon

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 his own misery. He chooses to live alone and in darkness while even poor Cratchit is rich in family. Scrooge’s distaste for Fred’s happiness is not just annoyance at the sight of merriness and excess, it is also motivated by bitterness towards marriage based on Scrooge’s own lost love Belle, who left him long ago.

In the story, cold and loneliness are set up in opposition to the warmth of family. Symbols of coldness such as Scrooge’s empty hearth, refusal to provide heat for Cratchit, and keeping his own house dark to save money show Scrooge’s cruelty and lack of connection. But family provides the antidote to this coldness. When Fred enters, the counting house suddenly warms up. Further, Cratchit’s warmth, despite his lack of coal, and the togetherness and energy of his large family, show him to be one of the most fortunate men in the story.

Scrooge does have a kind of family in his partner Marley, who is described at the beginning of the novella as fulfilling many roles for Scrooge before his death. The inseparability of their names above the firm’s entrance shows how close they are—at least in business terms—and though they are bachelors they share their lives, and the suite of rooms is passed down like a family legacy from Marley to Scrooge. Ultimately, from Marley’s warning and the visions provided by the ghosts, Scrooge does learn to appreciate and connect with Fred and the rest of his family, and to even extend that family to include the Cratchits.

Related Themes from Other Texts
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Family ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Family appears in each chapter of A Christmas Carol. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Family Quotes in A Christmas Carol

Below you will find the important quotes in A Christmas Carol related to the theme of Family.
Stave 1 Quotes

Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Related Characters: Jacob Marley
Related Literary Devices:
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

'A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!' cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.
'Bah!' said Scrooge, 'Humbug!'

Related Characters: Ebenezer Scrooge (speaker), Fred Scrooge (speaker)
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

'Business!' cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. 'Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!'

Related Characters: Jacob Marley (speaker), Ebenezer Scrooge
Related Literary Devices:
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:
Stave 2 Quotes

'The school is not quite deserted,' said the Ghost. 'A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still.'
Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed.

Related Characters: The Ghost of Christmas Past (speaker), Ebenezer Scrooge
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
Stave 3 Quotes

The sight of these poor revellers appeared to interest the Spirit very much, for he stood with Scrooge beside him in a baker's doorway, and taking off the covers as their bearers passed, sprinkled incense on their dinners from his torch.

Related Literary Devices:
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs Cratchit since their marriage. […]Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it
was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so.

Related Characters: Bob Cratchit
Related Literary Devices:
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

'God bless us every one!'

Related Characters: Tiny Tim (speaker)
Related Literary Devices:
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
Stave 5 Quotes

'Now, I'll tell you what, my friend,' said Scrooge, 'I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And therefore,' he continued, leaping from his stool, and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the Tank again; 'and therefore I am about to raise your salary!'

Related Characters: Ebenezer Scrooge (speaker), Bob Cratchit
Related Literary Devices:
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis: