A Christmas Carol
The action of ‘A Christmas Carol’ takes place in just 24 hours. This short time span ensures that the pace is swift to engage the reader and also to show us how easy it is for a person to change.
Stave 1: Marley’s Ghost
The novella opens in Scrooge’s counting-house on Christmas Eve. Scrooge is visited by his nephew, Fred, who invites him to dine with him on Christmas Day. Scrooge refuses. He also refuses to donate any money to charity.
Scrooge returns to his home. As he approaches his door, he sees the face of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley, in the door knocker.
That evening, the ghost of Jacob Marley visits Scrooge. The ghost is wrapped in a long chain and warns him that, if Scrooge does not change his ways and become more compassionate and generous, then Scrooge will be doomed to an after-life of misery.
Marley tells Scrooge that through the night he will be visited by three ghosts who are his only chance of salvation.
Stave 2: The First of the Three Spirits
Scrooge is visited by the first of the ghosts, the Ghost of Christmas Past.
The ghost takes Scrooge back in time to see himself as a lonely young boy, spending Christmas alone.
The ghost then shows Scrooge a later, more cheerful Christmas, when his sister Fan takes him from school to spend Christmas at home.
Another happy Christmas memory is shown to Scrooge as he see himself as a young man at his employer’s jolly party.
Then the ghost shows him an unhappy memory as his fiance Belle breaks off their engagement because Scrooge is now too preoccupied with money.
A final scene is shown to Scrooge: an older Belle surrounded with a happy family. Scrooge is upset by these scenes and tries to prevent the ghost from showing him anything further. Scrooge ends up in his bedroom.
Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits
The Ghost of Christmas Present appears in Scrooge’s house, surrounded by huge amounts of food.
This ghost takes Scrooge to his clerk’s house. Bob and his family are celebrating Christmas Day in a cheerful, companionable way but there is a shadow in the scene. The ghost warns Scrooge that the crippled youngest child, Tiny Tim, will die in the near future.
The ghost and Scrooge then travel around the world, seeing scenes of people enjoying Christmas. They end up in Fred’s house, where the guests and Fred celebrate Christmas and joke about Scrooge’s attitude to the festival.
The stave ends on a sombre note as Scrooge sees two hideous children who are hiding in the ghost’s cloak. The ghost tells Scrooge that these children represent Ignorance and Want, and that they are dangerous.
Stave 4: The Last of the Spirits
The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come silently takes Scrooge to visit future scenes.
In the future, people talk casually and without feeling about an unknown dead man.
The stolen clothes and possessions of this dead man are sold in a grim shop in a crime-ridden part of London.
Scrooge is taken to the Cratchits’ house again where the family are mourning the death of Tiny TIm.
The final scene is in a graveyard where Scrooge sees a grave with his own name on it. Falling to his knees, Scrooge promises that he will change his life and celebrate Christmas.
Stave 5: The End of It
Scrooge wakes up in his own bedroom on the morning of Christmas Day. He changes his ways, correcting all the mistakes that he made in Stave 1. He gives generously to charity, sends a turkey to Bob’s house and attends Fred’s Christmas Day lunch.
The novella ends on a positive note; we learn that Tiny Tim does not die but that Scrooge becomes like a second father to him. We also learn that Scrooge does indeed celebrate and embrace Christmas for the rest of his life.