Places: A Christmas Carol

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1843

Type of work: Short fiction

Type of plot: Moral

Time of work: Mid-nineteenth century

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*London

*London. Christmas Carol, AScrooge’s first nocturnal journey is guided by the Ghost of Christmas Present, who whisks him from his bed on a nighttime journey to observe London’s joyful holiday season. They oversee Christmas delight in the Cratchit home, located in a poor section of London (where author Charles Dickens himself had once lived). Before this ghost withers away on the streets of London, he escorts Scrooge to holiday scenes among northern miners and coastal lighthouse keepers; he even whisks him out to sea to watch Christmas’s softening effect on rough sailors. Scrooge next visits scenes from the past and future.

Scrooge’s bedroom

Scrooge’s bedroom. Room to which Scrooge retreats after Marley warns him about night-time visitors and the place at which his nocturnal adventures begin. The old miser is then spirited from his bed and escorted through the air to his childhood home, west of London in Rochester–which was also Dickens’s childhood home. Here they drop down in three locations, designed to soften Scrooge: a sad and lonely schoolroom, a warehouse magically transformed for Christmas fun by the generous Fezziwig, and a park bench where a youthful Scrooge coldly breaks off his engagement.

Churchyard

Churchyard. Cemetery where Scrooge sees his own grave during his journey with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The callous and bleak atmosphere of a shop where Scrooge sees his own bed being sold and the even greater shock of seeing his own name on a tombstone in the overgrown churchyard complete the reformation of the old miser, especially after he realizes that the future he has been seeing is not immutable. When he awakens back in his bedroom on Christmas morning, he is a very different man from the one who fell asleep there the night before.

Scrooge’s countinghouse

Scrooge’s countinghouse. Scrooge’s London offices; a bleak, cold working place, warmed by the smallest imaginable fire, even on the coldest winter days when the story opens. On the day after Christmas, however, the story comes full circle in this setting, with Scrooge filling his office with both physical warmth and true holiday cheer.

Sources for Further StudyDonovan, Frank. Dickens and Youth. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1968. A discussion of Dickens’ extensive use of children in his novels. A Christmas Carol is considered in detail, in two ways. Scrooge’s unhappy childhood is considered as the major cause for his present loneliness and misanthropy. The children of Bob Cratchit, especially Tiny Tim, are examined as examples of innocents who are happy even when their circumstances are difficult.Epstein, Norrie. The Friendly Dickens: Being a Good-Natured Guide to the Art and Adventures of the Man Who Invented Scrooge. New York: Penguin, 2001. A lighthearted and enthusiastic biography of Dickens that includes critical summaries of sixteen of his novels, with illustrations and references to popular culture that elucidate Dickens’s work and demonstrate his influence.Gissing, George. Charles Dickens: A Critical Study. 1898. Boston: Adamant Media, 2001. A biography and critical analysis written only thirty years after Dickens’s death by a prolific Victorian novelist who shared Dickens’s concern for exposing social problems.Kaplan, Fred. Dickens: A Biography. New York: William Morrow, 1988. A comprehensive biography of the author, with more than 500 pages of text and more than 100 illustrations. The focus is on Dickens’ psychological makeup, and how it affected his written works.Newey, Vincent. The Scriptures of Charles Dickens: Novels of Ideology, Novels of the Self. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2004. An examination of Dickens’s view of humankind’s options for living in a world of flux, including a chapter exploring “A Christmas Carol’s” view of conversion.Pool, Daniel. What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist–The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth Century England. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993. An engaging look at social customs and everyday objects from the period in which Dickens’s novels are set.Prickett, Stephen. Victorian Fantasy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979. A study of fantasy writings in Victorian England. Chapter 2, “Christmas at Scrooge’s,” discusses the use of fantasy elements in A Christmas Carol and Dickens’ other Christmas stories.Slater, Michael, ed. Dickens 1970. Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.: Stein & Day, 1970. An anthology of essays on Dickens’ works, on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of his death. Particularly of interest is Angus Wilson’s article “Dickens on Children and Childhood,” which focuses on Tiny Tim as a symbol of innocence, hope, and faith.Stone, Harry. Dickens and the Invisible World: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, and Novel-Making. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979. A treatment of Dickens’ use of fantasy elements in his literary works. The fifth chapter focuses on five short works, including A Christmas Carol. The emphasis is on the emotions of the characters as reflected in their supernatural experiences.
Categories: Places