1. Under what circumstances was this story published, and for what type of audience? (Christmas issue) What features and themes would have been expected in a Christmas story?
  2. What social context surrounded this 1843 story? Can you think of other Victorian works which responded to similar conditions?
  3. What are some features of the tale's writing style? Its descriptions and mode of humor? What do you make of his puns? (e. g., Marley has no "bowels") Contemporary allusions? Other verbal jokes? (descriptions themselves often over-the-top, comic juxtapositions, as when ghosts of Christmas are reduced to his bedpost)
  4. What purpose is served by the story's repetitions? Which types of words or scenes are most repeated?
  5. In which circumstances is Dickens sarcastic, and in which is he sentimental or rhapsodic?
  6. Do you think the story is told as swiftly as is necessary for the plot? If not, why and in what way does Dickens digress?
  7. In what ways is this story arranged to resemble an oral tale? Would this be appropriate for its themes?
  8. Would it be accurate to describe this story as an allegory? A "sentimental fiction"? Why or why not? If it is sentimental, is this a flaw or a virtue?
  9. What social institutions for the care of the poor does Scrooge applaud toward the beginning of the story? What social debates of the time would Scrooge's opinions have suggested? How have his views changed by the story's conclusion?
  10. How is the story structured? What is added by the five stave design? Why not five acts?
  11. How do we know the story is set in the Victorian period (as opposed to present-day United States or Britain)? What contemporary issues does the narrator raise? (prohibition of Sunday activities, Sabbatarianism)
  12. What purpose is served by the initial appearance of the nephew, the benevolent gentlemen, and Marley?
  13. What is the benevolent gentleman's response to Scrooge's claim that he doesn't know whether there are any of his fellow citizens who are wretchedly poor?
  14. Can you give a psychological interpretation of aspects of the plot? (unanticipated appearance of Marley on anniversary of his death, evocations of subconscious, reversal of day and night)
  15. How are the ghosts described? What are some allegorical features of their appearance? For example, why can't Scrooge extinguish the light on the head of the first ghost? Why is the second ghost dressed in green and barefoot? Why is the third ghost dark and unwilling to speak?
  16. Which aspects of life are revisted with the "Spirit of Christmas Past"? Which memories especially move Scrooge?
  17. How are their differences crucial to the plot? What does Scrooge learn from each?
  18. Why do you think the character of Scrooge is presented as initially so extreme in his attitudes? What prompts his development in moral feeling and empathy?
  19. What is the relationship between Scrooge's dreams and reality? Are Scrooge's experiences supernatural, or realistic, or both?
  20. What is added to this story by the illustrations?
  21. What purpose is served by the story's many descriptions of food?
  22. How does the story create suspense?
  23. How is the Crachit family portrayed? Do you think this is a realistic depiction of an early-Victorian family's life under poverty, and if not, what kinds of details are omitted? What problems do they experience?
  24. How is the crippled boy portrayed? Would this mode of presenting a disabled person likely be used today?
  25. Does the narrative change pace as it progresses?
  26. Do you think the "Spirit of Christmas Present" is accurate in showing Scrooge a world in which everyone, on land or sea, is celebrating Christmas in some way? (exceptions might include Jews, those of other countries, etc.) What is Dickens' point?
  27. In what context is Scrooge introduced to "Ignorance" and "Want"? Why are these portrayed as children, and what do they represent?
  28. Why is Scrooge taken to the rag and bone shop to view those who have looted the body of a hypothetical future self? What other aspects of a lonely death are revealed to him? What case does the narrator make that death under other circumstances will be noble?
  29. What point does the narrative make about hoarding, and the uses of wealth? Why doesn't the story criticize wealth by portraying extravagance rather than miserliness?
  30. Does the story have a fitting closure? Are there elements of the ending which come as a surprise?
  31. What do you make of the efficacy of Scrooge's acts of reparation? Are these fitting in the context of the story?
  32. What do you make of the narrator's humorous comment that Scrooge remained a Total Abstainer in the matter of ghostly visitations? What is the point of this mode of saying that the ghosts visited him no more?
  33. Do you think the narrator's commentaries have added to the story, or alternately, do you find them inappropriate?
  34. Based on this story, what do you think were Dickens's views of religion? Assuming a Christian culture, how might this story have departed from expectations? (non-sectarian, little emphasis on birth of Christ child)
  35. Why do you think this story has been so popular over the years as a Christmas tale? How might it especially have spoken to the Victorians?
  36. Which incidents did you find most intriguing or memorable?