Study Guide

A Christmas Carol What's Up With the Ending?

By Charles Dickens

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What's Up With the Ending?

You know what's great about the endings of Victorian novels? They are usually just a total exercise in wish fulfillment. However much some authors grumble about the predictability of the presents-and-coal approach, and the annoyingness of having to create a whole happily-ever-after to resolve pretty complex stuff, all of them eventually deliver on the promise of a tying everything up in a shiny neat bow. The good characters get prizes and rewards, and the bad ones get their just desserts and comeuppances.

But A Christmas Carol is different.

Sure, you still get the mega-happy ending—Tiny Tim lives, everyone gets to eat a giant turkey, and Scrooge is made over into the nice grandfather that he should have been all along. But… where are the punishments? Where is the narrator with the proverbial punch in the face for all those bad guys that we've been hating?

Yup, that's right—we don't have any of that. Instead, because our protagonist and antagonist are one and the same person (check out Shmoop's "Character Roles" section for the story behind that phenomenon), we have a really rare case of a plot in which the bad guy is quickly rehabbed into a good one, and an ending that rewards him for his timely transformation, conveniently ignoring the bad that came before.

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