Study Guide

A Christmas Carol Writing Style

By Charles Dickens

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Writing Style

Narrator vs. Protagonist

It's kind of funny that in a novella about the journey of the protagonist from point A (hating people, being a miser) to point B (wanting human companionship, being generous), the narrator spends the whole time tapping his foot impatiently, as if totally annoyed that has Scrooge hasn't gotten there already.

Even when Scrooge seems to be doing the right thing, the narrator sounds like he's really reluctant to say so:

To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy, would be untrue. But he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished, turned it sturdily, walked in, and lighted his candle.

He did pause, with a moment's irresolution, before he shut the door; and he did look cautiously behind it first, as if he half expected to be terrified with the sight of Marley's pigtail sticking out into the hall. But there was nothing on the back of the door, except the screws and nuts that held the knocker on, so he said "Pooh, pooh!" and closed it with a bang. (1.84-85)

Check out how much the narration stretches out and twists Scrooge's perfectly reasonable reaction here: "okay, yes, fine," the narrator's tone seems to be saying, "you got me, he did obviously get kind of freaked out by the whole face-on-the-knocker thing."

But then the narrator goes on to gleefully make fun of the fact that Scrooge overpowers his fears and turns the handle "sturdily" and then even says "Pooh, pooh" to himself.

Can you find another moment of the narrator fighting it out with his protagonist?

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