A Christmas Carol Stave 2 Summary

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  • 0:04 Confusion Upon Waking
  • 0:42 The Ghost of Christmas Past
  • 1:30 The Old School
  • 2:26 Fezziwig
  • 3:18 The End of an Engagement
  • 4:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lauren Boivin

Lauren has taught English at the university level and has a master's degree in literature.

This lesson takes a look at Stave 2 from Charles Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol.' In Stave 2, Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, who takes the old miser to review some scenes from his own history.

Confusion Upon Waking

Stave 2 of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol begins with Scrooge feeling considerably baffled. He awakes to hear the clock strike twelve, but he knows he went to bed after 2 AM. In his sleep-fogged mind, he spends a while trying to figure out if he slept through a whole day and half of another night, or if maybe something has happened to the sun and it's actually noon despite the darkness.

We've all had those times where we have woken up and had to think hard about what day it is or where we might be, but usually the confusion dissipates in a moment. Not so for Scrooge! Instead, ''The more he thought, the more perplexed he was; and the more he endeavoured not to think, the more he thought.''

The Ghost of Christmas Past

As if Scrooge weren't already confused enough, a hand draws aside his bed curtains while Scrooge lies in bed contemplating time and space. As the curtains move, Scrooge spies ''a strange figure - like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium.'' This unearthly apparition causes Scrooge to grudgingly consider that perhaps he really did see the ghost of his dead partner Marley the night before, and perhaps the things Marley foreshadowed might really come to pass.

Still bewildered, Scrooge asks, ''Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me?'' ''Indeed,'' the Spirit replies then explains that it is the Ghost of Christmas Past. Then, almost as if to make small talk, Scrooge asks, ''Long Past?'' To which the Ghost replies ominously, ''No. Your past.''

The Old School

After some supernatural travel, Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past end up at his old school. Many young boys are running joyfully outside, heading home for the Christmas holiday. It's a pleasant scene, but the Spirit interrupts by saying, ''The school is not quite deserted...A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still.''

This sad boy, it turns out, is none other than Scrooge. The sad scene brings tears to Scrooge's eyes. It also causes him to reflect on his more recent past, as he is inspired to say to the Spirit, ''There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should like to have given him something: that's all.''

Within this same scene, the Spirit says, ''Let us see another Christmas''. Scrooge sees an older version of his schoolboy self getting a visit from his loving sister Fan. She tells him he can come home because their father has grown kinder. His sister is no longer living, but her son is Scrooge's kindhearted nephew who invited him to Christmas dinner earlier.


After the sombre scene at the school, Scrooge is taken to a joyful memory. It is the place where he worked as an apprentice in his younger years. He's delighted to see his old boss, Fezziwig, ''Why, it's old Fezziwig! Bless his heart; it's Fezziwig alive again!'' Scrooge speaks glowingly of this cheerful, humble man to the Spirit. They watch a simple but happy Christmas party from Scrooge's past.

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