A Christmas Carol 2

Read the summary below - go back to the character quiz and complete this before correcting the mistakes here in the summary.

Few Christmases go by in England without some film version of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol (watch this black and white version of the story - 78 minutes) being shown on TV. This highly popular and well-known novel is over 150 years old, and was written in the nineteenth century by a great English writer who used his genius to delight readers with his stories, but also to attack various social injustices such as poverty, homelessness, the neglect and abuse of vulnerable adults and children.

The recording attached summarises this famous story. Unfortunately, there are over 40 mistakes in the transcript. Can you write any of them down when you listen to the recording?

The ghost of Christmas present

The ghost of Christmas present

The ghost of Christmas future

The ghost of Christmas future

Ebenezer Scrooge is a financier and money-changer who has devoted his life to the accumulation of wealth. A mean-spirited, miserly old man, the story begins with Scrooge busy counting money on a cold Christmas Eve, while his clerk, Bob Cratchit, shivers because Scrooge refuses to spend money on providing coals for a fire. Scrooge's nephew, Fred, pays his uncle a visit and invites him to his yearly Christmas party. Two gentlemen also call in, collecting charitable donations for the poor and ask Scrooge for a contribution to their charity. They too are rebuffed by Scrooge, who declares that the poor laws and workhouses are adequate to care for the poor. When Scrooge is told that many would rather die than go there, he mercilessly responds, "If they would rather die ... they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population." Scrooge reacts to all his visitors with bitterness and venom, spitting out an angry "Bah! Humbug!" in reply to his nephew's "Merry Christmas!" At the end of the workday, Scrooge grudgingly allows Cratchit to take Christmas Day off, but tells him to arrive at work earlier on the day after Christmas to make up for his loss of working hours.

Later that evening, after returning to his dark, cold room, Scrooge receives a chilling visitation from the ghost of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley. Marley, looking haggard and pallid, relates his tragic story. As punishment for his greedy and self-serving life his spirit has been condemned to wander the earth weighted down with heavy chains. Marley has come to warn Scrooge that his miserliness and contempt for others will subject him to the same punishment Marley himself suffers in death: condemned to walk the earth in penitence since he had not done it in life in concern for mankind. A prominent symbol of Marley's torture is a weighty chain wound around his form that has fastened to it symbolic objects from Marley's life fashioned out of heavy metal: moneyboxes, keys, and the like. Marley hopes to save Scrooge from suffering the same fate. Marley informs Scrooge that three spirits will visit him during each of the next three nights. After the wraith disappears, Scrooge collapses into a deep sleep.

He wakes as the bells of the neighbouring church strike twelve. The first spirit appears and introduces himself as the Ghost of Christmas Past, a strange childlike phantom who leads Scrooge on a journey into some of the happiest and saddest moments of Scrooge's past, events that would largely shape the present-day Scrooge. Unseen by those he observes, Scrooge is shown his mistreatment as a child by his uncaring father who did not allow his son to return home from boarding school,even at Christmas. Scrooge revisits his childhood schooldays, his apprenticeship with a jolly merchant named Fezziwig, his engagement to Belle, a woman who leaves Scrooge because his lust for money eclipses his ability to love another and he also re-lives the death of his sister, the only other person who ever showed love and compassion for him. Scrooge, deeply moved, sheds tears of regret before the ghost returns him to his bed, where he falls into a coma.

The Ghost of Christmas Present, clad in a green fur robe, takes Scrooge through London to unveil Christmas as it will happen that year. Scrooge watches the large, bustling Cratchit family prepare a miniature feast in its poverty-stricken home. He discovers Bob Cratchit's disabled son, Tiny Tim, a brave child whose kindness and humility warm Scrooge's heart. Scrooge is then led to his niece's to witness the Christmas party. Scrooge finds the jovial gathering delightful and pleads with the spirit to stay until the very end of the festivities. As the day passes, the spirit grows older, becoming noticeably older. Towards the end of the day, he shows Scrooge two starved children, Ignorance and Want, living under his coat. He disappears instantly as Scrooge notices a dark, hooded figure coming towards him.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come leads Scrooge through a sequence of strange scenes relating to an anonymous man's recent funeral Scrooge sees businessmen discussing the dead man's riches, some vagabonds trading his personal effects for cash, and a poor couple expressing relief at the death of their unforgiving creditor. Scrooge, keen to learn the lesson of his latest visitor, begs to learn the name of the dead man. After pleading with the ghost, Scrooge finds himself in a churchyard, the spirit pointing to a grave. Scrooge examines the headstone and is shocked to read his own name. He desperately implores the spirit to change his fate, promising to renounce his insensitive, avaricious ways and to honour Christmas with all his heart. Whoosh! He suddenly finds himself safely tucked up in his bed.

Overwhelmed with delight by the chance to redeem himself and thankful that he has been returned to Christmas Day, Scrooge rushes out onto the street planning to share his newfound Christmas spirit. He sends a huge Christmas turkey to the Cratchit household and attends Fred's party, to the astonishment of the other guests. As the years pass, he holds true to his promise and honours Christmas with all his heart: he treats Tiny Tim as if he were his own child, provides lavish presents for the poor, and treats his fellow human beings with kindness, generosity, and warmth.


A Christmas Carol is a Victorian morality tale first written in 1843, and intended to be forceful in its message about social responsibility, stating how material riches can corrupt people so that they hold everything other than money in contempt. Wealth can blind them to the importance of friendship, family, love, and charity, and it can be a justification for ignoring urgent social issues. The story deals extensively with two of Dickens' common themes, social injustice and poverty, the relationship between the two, and their causes and effects. Scrooge undergoes a profound experience of redemption as he sees the error of his ways and resolves to live differently.


Notes and vocabulary

To find out more about Charles Dickens click here!

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