© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol


by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Why do the ghosts look like they do? Why is the Past half child-half old man? Why is the Future a hooded phantom that doesn't talk? What would change if the Future could simply answer Scrooge's questions?
  2. For such a short piece of fiction, there are two surprisingly long sections given over to people dancing with each other: the party at Fezziwig's house, and then the party at Fred's (okay, good call, at Fred's there is some dancing and some blind-man's bluff, but they are similar enough to fall under this category). Why? Why aren't these simply scenes of people enjoying dinner or conversation together? Why does Dickens focus so much on the physicality and movement of dance?
  3. Why is Scrooge a miser rather than an ungenerous guy who lives in luxury? Is his self-denial as important as his tight-fistedness towards others? Do you think he will start treating himself to comfort and luxury at the end of the novella? Why or why not?
  4. Who is the intended audience of this novella? Are we supposed to identify with Scrooge and reach into our own pockets to fix our ungenerous lifestyles before it's too late? Or are we supposed to sigh with relief as we realize that at least we're not that guy? Does the book encourage activism or passivity?
  5. Why is Scrooge's business money-lending rather than being a big-time factory boss or something? Does it matter what he's become rich doing? How would the story be different if he still had the same personality, but was instead a really rich painter? Politician? Entertainer (like our good friend Dickens himself)?
  6. What do you think Scrooge's whole backstory with his dad and sister actually is? Can you make up something plausible? Something implausible? What would be different if we knew definitively what had happened?
  7. Okay, you're a bigwig exec at HBO. The original material has been done to death, but there's no reason some of these characters couldn't get spin-off shows! So, whom would we want to keep following around after the plot is over? Are there characters that fall by the wayside that we want to see more of? The couple that almost goes bankrupt? That one ghost who can't help the lady with the baby? The pawnshop guy and his crew? Are there other characters who really wouldn't be interesting without the Scrooge element?

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...