Summary (A Christmas Carol)

Below is a summary of a Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Stave one

The novella opens on Christmas Eve in London, seven years after the death of Ebenezer Scrooge’s business partner Jacob Marley. Scrooge is a lonely, aging old miser. He hates Christmas and as such refuses a dinner invitation from his nephew Fred (the son of his dead sister Fan). Scrooge turns away two men who are collecting money for the local poor. He only grudgingly give’s his underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit Christmas Day off with pay as this is the custom.

That evening Scrooge is visited at home by the ghost of his dead business partner Jacob Marley. Marley was like Scrooge a miserly person, has been condemned to wander the earth entwined by heavy chains and money boxes forged during his lifetime of greed.  Marley warns Scrooge that he has one chance to avoid the same fate and tells him that he will be visited by three spirits and must listen to them.

Stave two

The first spirit arrives, The Ghost of Christmas Past, the spirit takes Scrooge to Christmas scenes from his own childhood and adolescence. The scenes reveal Scrooge’s lonely and miserable childhood at boarding school and his relationship with his beloved sister Fan. They also show the Christmas party hosted by Mr Fezziwig, with whom Scrooge did his apprenticeship. Mr Fezziwig treated Scrooge like his own son. Scrooge also sees his former neglected Fiancé Belle, she is shown breaking off their engagement as she knows Scrooge will never love her as much as he loves money. The ghost then takes Scrooge to see Belle and her happy large family on the Christmas Eve that Marley died. Scrooge is upset when he hears her description of him and demands the spirit removes him from the house.

Stave three

Stave three begins with the arrival of the second spirit, The Ghost of Christmas Present. Firstly the spirit takes scrooge to a couple of happy Christmas scenes, including a market with people buying ingredients for their Christmas Dinners and celebrations in a miner’s cottage and in a lighthouse.

The ghost then takes Scrooge to see people he knows. Firstly his nephew Fred’s Christmas party then to see the Cratchit family. Here Scrooge sees Bob’ youngest son Tiny Tim, Tiny Tim Is a crippled boy who is seriously ill. The spirit warns Scrooge that Tiny Tim will die soon unless the course of events changes.

Before the ghost departs, it shows Scrooge two hideous children named Ignorance and Want. The spirit tells Scrooge to beware of the former above all.

Stave four

The third spirit The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come arrives, the ghost shows Scrooge Christmas Day in the future. The ghost remains silent and shows Scrooge scenes involving the death of a hated man, whose funeral is only attended by local businessmen as they will be given a free lunch. His charwomen, laundress and the undertaker steal his possessions to sell to a pawnbroker. Scrooge asks the spirit to show him a single person who feels any emotion over his death, he is only shown one poor couple who rejoice at his death as it gives them time to repay their debts.

When asked to see tenderness connected to any death, he is shown the Cratchit family mourning the death of Tiny Tim. The ghost then shows Scrooge his neglected grave. Sobbing Scrooge pledges to change his ways.

Stave five

Scrooge awakens on Christmas morning a genuinely changed man. He starts by making a large donation to the charity he rejected the day before. He anonymously sends a large turkey to the Cratchit family and spends the afternoon with Fred’s family. The following day he gives Bob Cratchit a substantial pay rise and becomes a father figure to Tiny Tim. From then on Scrooge treats everyone with compassion, generosity and kindness.

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