Characters in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Instructor: Debbie Notari
Charles Dickens created lasting characters in his short novel 'A Christmas Carol.' Although some of his characters are ordinary, others are fantastical, such as the three ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. In this lesson, we will get to know these characters a bit better.

Brief Summary

As we begin this lesson, it might be good to briefly summarize the story A Christmas Carol, although it is a fairly familiar tale. A miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, lives only for money and is given the chance of redemption through visits from three separate ghosts, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. These ghosts confront Scrooge with his past and present actions as well as his possible future if he neglects to change his ways. Intertwined in this tales are people who Scrooge has neglected over the years, whose lives he could make better, if only he put his money to good uses.

Character Summaries

In this section, we will look at each of the main characters in the story and briefly examine their motivations.

First, the protagonist is certainly Ebenezer Scrooge, the miser. As a child, Scrooge was neglected, and later on his fiancee leaves him due to his love of money. He is stingy, lives on very little himself, and is cranky to all who are unfortunate enough to cross his path. Scrooge lives in willful ignorance of the needs of those around him. He doesn't believe it is his responsibility to help others until he is visited by three ghosts who help him change his ways. Scrooge then reforms, making significant differences in the lives of those around him through his newfound generosity.

Fran is Ebenezer Scrooge's sickly, but lovely, little sister. Their relationship is always portrayed in a positive way in the novel. She dearly loves her brother, and vice-versa, but they are often kept apart by a cold-hearted father.

Fezziwig is Ebenezer Scrooge's former employer. He was a very jolly, generous soul who threw lavish Christmas parties for his employees every year. He seems to have a solid, happy marriage to Mrs. Fezziwig, since they dance joyously at these parties.

Belle is Ebenezer Scrooge's former fiancee. Although their relationship starts out well, it fizzles out when Scrooge becomes more obsessed with money than with his love for Belle. She breaks off the relationship, and Scrooge never marries.

Jacob Marley was Scrooge's former business partner, and both were loan sharks. Marley dies, but comes back to haunt Scrooge, revealing that he is in purgatory, wrapped in a heavy chain that was forged by his sins in life and neglect of the poor. Marley tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts during the next three nights.

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