A Christmas Carol - Theories/Context



Dickens disagreed with how the rich dismissed their resposibility to help the poor.

  • The term "want" is used lots throughput the novel, showing the desperation of these people.
  • "many thousands" is used by Dickens to emphasise how over a quarter of the population lived in Poverty at the end of the 19th century.


  • Many "would rather die" than go to the workhouses and the hours are long, the pay is low and families are seperated.
  • Scrooge's opinion of "they had better do it, and decrease te surplus poulation" reflects the uncraing opinion of the rich in Victorian England.
  • The Poor Laws were intended to help the poor, but it made it worse.
1 of 4


The gap between the poor and the rich in Victorian England was huge.

Scrooge in Stave 1 repesents the greedy, self-interested upper class - "scraping, clutching covetous old sinner". He also abuses his power over Bob by threatening "you'll keep your Christmas by losing your situation."

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Tiny Tim's death to represent how upper classes controlled the lives of lower classes.

The mistreatment of the poor creates tension - Mrs Cratchit describes Scrooge as an "unfeeling man" as he refuses to help her husband.

The merging of the two classes at the end symbolically ends the divide, and urges readers to do the same.

2 of 4


Dickens shows upper class characters to be unhappy (like Scrooge) whereas the lower class characters are nicer and loving (the Cratchits) despite having extremely little compared to the rich.

Despite being a good, kind hearted man, Bob Cratchit is made to watch his son die unless an upper class man helps him - this is very unfair.

The child Ignorance is used to show the readers how they are ignoring the problems in their own society. Want shows how the poor are in need of basic things like food and shelter. Dickens wanted to show that by ignoring these issues, society would produce children like this, who had no hope of a good future.

3 of 4

Religion + Christmas

Victorians were usually Christian, so Dickens uses Christian ideals of compassion, kindness and generosity to underline Scrooge's transformation. In the bible, Jesus focuses on helping the helpless, so generosity was important in Victorian England particularly around christmas. 

Scrooge also shows action that reflect some of the 7 deadly sins. He chases away a carol singer, threatening him with a ruler - this is wrath. He also idolises money ("another idol has displaced me") and idolising something that is not God is a big sin in Christianity.

It is written in staves instead of chapters, reflecting the format of a christmas carol.

4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar English Literature resources:

See all English Literature resources »See all A Christmas Carol resources »