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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens NOTES

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1 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens NOTES

2 I. Novel Information

3 Novel Information A Christmas Carol, a classic novel by Charles Dickens, was written in six weeks First published on December 19, 1843 The story was an instant success, selling over six thousand copies in one week, and the tale has become one of the most popular and enduring Christmas stories of all time.

4 About “A Christmas Carol”
Written during a time of decline in Christmas traditions A Victorian morality allegory of an old and bitter miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who undergoes a profound experience of redemption over the course of one night as visited by Spirits Scrooge is a miser who has devoted his life to the accumulation of wealth. He holds anything other than money in contempt, including family, love, and the Christmas season.

5 Novel Information A Christmas Carol was written in the format of a song/carol. Staves are verses or stanzas that a composer uses to divide a song or carol. Dickens divided the novel into five staves.

6 Major themes The story deals with social injustice & poverty.
Dickens wrote in the wake of British government changes to the welfare system known as the Poor Laws, changes which required among other things, welfare applicants to "work" on treadmills in workhouses

7 A Victorian Christmas Christmas had just been revived shortly before A Christmas Carol was written – “Silent Night” was written by Joseph Mohr – Britain’s Queen Victoria married Prince Albert from Germany. He brought with him the tradition of the Christmas tree – The first Christmas card was made. It was a Christmas scene with a family eating dinner, and it said, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.”

8 II. Background Information: Victorian England

9 Early Nineteenth-Century London (1800s)
London was a growing, world city that awed visitors with its size and grandeur. Transcontinental Railway= transportation London was the largest, most spectacular city in the world. In 1800 the population of London was around a million souls. That number would swell to 4.5 million by 1880.

10 The Industrial Revolution was a time of change in Europe marked by:
the introduction of power-driven machinery the growth of factories a huge increase in the production of goods a shift from a rural, agricultural society to a more urban one

11 Dickens’s Victorian England
As a young man, Charles Dickens witnessed a decline in the traditional celebration of Christmas in England. He grew up in a poor suburb of London and was familiar with poverty. He grew to learn how the rich got richer and poor grew poorer. He wrote about this social injustice in A Christmas Carol. Because of the Industrial Revolution, many employers wouldn’t even give their employees Christmas Day off, including Scrooge.

12 Charles Dickens had experienced poverty as a child, and he was very concerned about the poor people of England. He raised money to help people in need by reading A Christmas Carol at charity events. Scrooge’s story brought about other changes too. For example, because of the book, a factory owner began closing his factory every Christmas and giving turkeys to of all his employees a home for disabled children was started

13 Allegory- a symbolic story
(Scrooge)-Victorian Elite/wealthy of London (Cratchit)- Impoverished of suburbs In Victorian England, poor people usually did not get much financial help. Even young children, sick people, and the elderly went without assistance from the government (monarchy) or charities.

14 Social Classes Rich and poor people lived very close to each other because the city was crammed with people. Thousands of horse-drawn vehicles cluttered the roads and street sweepers had tons of manure to clean up.

15 Life of Poverty No public sanitation system or running water; disease was rampant in the streets of Camden Town. Raw sewage flowed through open drains in the streets into the river. People didn’t wash a lot. They didn’t wash their clothes or bathe. The smell was unbearable.

16 What a life… Streets were dark at night. Houses burned coal for heat and cooking, so the air was always full of soot = pollution & smog Pick-pockets, prostitutes, drunks, and beggars fill the streets.

17 If you were a poor, out-of-work Londoner during this time, these were your options:
go to a workhouse beg on the street be thrown into prison


19 Before 1834 the church was responsible for the poor.
After this workhouses were built. Many families worked and lived here. It was very badly paid with long hours and a high chance of disease and death.

20 Workhouses Workhouses were institutions where people were put to work in exchange for food and shelter. People in workhouses often had little or no heat used rags for blankets did not get nearly enough food were severely overworked and even beaten Children often worked 16 hours a day, 6 days a week for very small pay. Dickens fiercely opposed this practice and wrote about it often.


22 name/date/LA# List 3 things your learned about A Christmas Carol. List 2 things that you have learned about life in 19th century Victorian England. List 1 thing you want to know more about during this unit study.

23 ACC Pre-Unit Quick Write
1) Do you believe one person can significantly change the way that he or she sees the world and treats others? Why or why not? 2) What does it take to make people change their ways? 3) If you were shown your past, present, and future in one night, how do you think you would change and why? (think internally) 4) Explain how important money and social status are to you. 23

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