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A Christmas Carol Lesson Plans

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is set in Victorian England. It is a story of a broken man whose wealth has become his only passion in life. As a young man, Ebenezer Scrooge had love and family in his life, but after many setbacks, he lost the desire to be part of society, part of a family, and in essence, a caring human being. One lonely and cold Christmas Eve, Scrooge goes to bed and is “visited” by four ghosts: his old (deceased) business partner, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Future. After an eye-opening adventure, traveling through time and memories, as well as a chillingly, frighteningly lonely visit to his potential future, Scrooge sees the error of his miserly ways and wakes up Christmas morning a new man, full of life, love and excitement to share his wealth and company with the people with whom he shares his life.

Student Activities for A Christmas Carol

Essential Questions for A Christmas Carol

  1. How do interpersonal relationships cause changes in people?
  2. Do others see us more clearly than we see ourselves?
  3. How can appealing to emotion, logic, and/or authority be used to persuade?

A Christmas Carol Summary

In Victorian England, Ebenezer Scrooge is a wealthy, old man, well known to his family and work associates as a stingy and cold-hearted person. Much to the chagrin of Scrooge’s nephew, who relentlessly tries to find the good in him, Scrooge consistently turns up his nose at invitations to join the family for celebrations with a sterile, “Bah! Humbug!” Also very affected by Scrooge’s harsh ways is Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s assistant at his money-lending shop. Scrooge is so stingy with his money that he wont allow Cratchit to add coal to the fire, despite the freezing weather.

As the story begins, we learn that Scrooge’s long-time partner, Jacob Marley, has recently died. After a brief introduction to Scrooge’s miserly ways, we see Scrooge go to his home and prepare for bed. While dozing in his chair, Scrooge is awakened by Marley - or more precisely - his ghost. Marley is there to warn Scrooge of what his future will be like, should he not mend his ways and open his heart to the people in his life. Marley tells Scrooge to expect visits throughout the night from three spirits.

The first spirit, the Ghost of Christmases Past, shows Scrooge scenes from his life as a younger man. Scrooge, though holding on to his “Bah! Humbug!” ways, is visibly moved by visions of his family, and of his past love and once fiancee. Despite his attempts to interact with his much happier past, the ghost will not allow it, and he is, all too soon, returned to his bedroom to await the next visit.

The second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, shows what is happening currently with the families of his nephew, and his employee, Cratchit. Scrooge witnesses the hardships that the Cratchit family is going through, including not having enough money for a proper Christmas meal, and the illness of the youngest son, Tiny Tim. Despite all, Tim makes a toast to Mr. Scrooge. Scrooge also sees his nephew’s Christmas celebration where the nephew’s wife talks about how awful Scrooge is, but the nephew sticks up for his uncle. Scrooge is shocked by what he witnesses. But again, questions go unanswered and he is returned to his bed to await his final visit.

Unlike the previous visitations, the Ghost of Christmas Future is fearsome and foreboding. He doesn’t show Scrooge anything heartwarming or touching, rather, he shows him where he will wind up if he doesn’t return to the way he was as a young man. Without a word spoken, the spirit is able to convey that Scrooge is bound to die an unloved, unhappy man, who is remembered as a horrible human being if he continues on his present course. Scrooge is terrified to the point of realizing that he has lost the joy of love and friendship in his life.

Waking with a start, Scrooge doesn’t lose a step. He immediately is reborn, a new man with a generous and joyful attitude. He doesn’t hesitate to purchase the largest turkey in the shop for Bob Cratchit family’s Christmas dinner, happily shocking the entire group. Scrooge also surprises his nephew with a surprise visit, an invitation which he has repeatedly declined.

The story ends with a feeling of redemption for someone who started out life joyfully enough, but through time and toil changed into a “Scrooge”.

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How To Analyze Charles Dickens’ Stories


Recognize the Context

Learn about the lives, times, and social concerns of Charles Dickens. This background information will aid in understanding of the issues he raises and the driving forces behind his narrative. Students will be better able to understand the perspective of the author after studying his background.


Plot and character analysis

To comprehend the story's narrative, conflicts, and characters, ask the students to carefully read it. Examine the protagonist's development, the challenges they experience, and the ways in which supporting characters affect the story.


Identify Themes and Motifs

Keep an eye out for reoccurring themes like societal injustice, differences between classes, redemption, and human nature. Encourage the students to determine any themes or symbols that add to the meaning or message of the tale.


Investigate Author’s Style

Study Dickens' writing style, taking note of how he uses language, tone, and narrative viewpoint. Analyze literary techniques. Examine how he develops characters and introduces ideas through his descriptions, conversation, and narrative decisions.


Examine Social Commentary

Look for situations in which Dickens makes observations about society concerns including industrialization, inequality, and poverty. Examine how personalities and circumstances reflect these larger issues.


Summarize and Reflect

Connect the connections between the story, characters, themes, and societal criticism as you reflect and synthesize. Consider how these components function as a unit to convey the story's message. Think about how the tale relates to current events.

Frequently Asked Questions About A Christmas Carol

Who is the protagonist in the story "A Christmas Carol"?

Ebenezer Scrooge, a wealthy yet stingy and self-centered old man, is the primary character. He serves as the story's main character and goes through a significant transformation with the help of four ghosts who help him realize the realities of life.

Why is the narrative set around the Christmas time?

The story's theme of change and regeneration is set against the backdrop of Christmas. It represents a season of happiness, love, and goodwill in contrast to Scrooge's original attitude.

What function do the three ghosts serve in the narrative?

Scrooge is led through his past, present, and prospective future by the three ghosts—the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Ultimately, they force him to face his own decisions and views. The story also reflects on second chances and the decisions to change one’s life.

Are there any "A Christmas Carol" adaptations?

Yes, the narrative has been adapted in a lot of different ways, including stage productions, motion pictures, television series, and animated films. While some versions closely follow the original text, others stray from it. The most recent adaptation of the story is in the form of a miniseries released in 2019.

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