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A Christmas Carol - Character

This GCSE English Literature quiz challenges you on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Charles Dickens’s novella, A Christmas Carol, focusses on very few characters. Ebenezer Scrooge is the cold-hearted miser whose life is changed by a succession of ghostly visitors. The first of these is his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who warns him that he will be visited on three successive nights by the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. Beyond these spirits, the novella is concerned with Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s ill-treated and badly-paid employee, his family, Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, and his wife. Two women, both of whom Scrooge loved as a younger man, Fan, his sister, and Belle, his fiancée, also feature.

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Several inhabitants of London play at least a brief role, as do a few characters from Scrooge’s past.

We see these characters through the voice of an omniscient third-person narrator who addresses the reader directly, sometimes drawing attention to his presence. This technique adds to the didactic nature of the text. We are not merely meant to observe this ghost story, but to learn from it too. When Scrooge watches his own past behaviour with regret and begins to wish he had behaved differently in his present life, we are meant to consider whether we have also behaved in an ungenerous manner, or have spoken unkindly to any acquaintance, or refused to do good.

Pay attention to the narratorial description of characters, and especially to those aspects of character which receive particular attention. Fred, for example, is characterised by his frequent and jolly laugh, which is given solemnity by his perceptive goodness of heart. A Christmas Carol is a moral fable, and for this reason characteristics are made to symbolise abstract qualities such as generosity, humility or forgiveness. Which qualities do you identify with each of the characters?

Answer the questions below to see how well you understand the characters in A Christmas Carol.

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  1. What does Jacob Marley most regret?
    As a spirit, Marley can see all human need, but can no longer offer help. By warning and frightening Scrooge into changing his ways, Marley is able to intervene indirectly on behalf of the many suffering people he can see
  2. "The Founder of the Feast indeed!" cried Mrs Cratchit, reddening. "I wish I had him here. I'd give him a piece of my mind to feast upon, and I hope he'd have a good appetite for it." Why does Mrs Cratchit's face redden as she interrupts her husband's toast to Scrooge?
    She does not wish to give Scrooge credit for the family's humble Christmas meal, considering the poor wages which Bob is paid
  3. "Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and solemnised it with an undoubted bargain." What does this sentence tell us about Scrooge's character?
    Scrooge is Marley's only mourner and only friend. His business dealings on the day of Marley's funeral hint that Marley is not much mourned and that business is Scrooge's foremost priority
  4. Scrooge's former employer, Mr Fezziwig, is depicted as generous and jolly. Which of the following phrases implies that he is also youthful?
    Despite being repeatedly referred to as "old" Mr Fezziwig, he is as nimble and agile as his young employees, especially when dancing
  5. Which of the following does NOT describe Scrooge's nephew, Fred?
    Fred refuses to take offence at Scrooge's rude rejection of his invitation to Christmas dinner
  6. Why does Belle release Scrooge from their engagement?
    She tries to make Scrooge acknowledge that she has been replaced by his new love of money
  7. Which of the following is true of Fred's wife?
    Scrooge's niece is shown laughing for much of the time. She encourages her guests to laugh in a good-natured way at her husband and is described as having "the sunniest pair of eyes" and dimples which "melted into one another when she laughed"
  8. When the Cratchit family tease Bob, saying that Martha has been unable to come home for the day, why does she quickly run out of hiding to surprise him?
    Martha is grateful to be home, even though she has already had to work on Christmas morning. Her family would have accepted her absence, albeit sadly
  9. Why does Scrooge feel sorry at the vision of his boyhood self?
    As soon as Scrooge feels sorry for his lonely boyhood self, he begins to feel pity on another, in this case the carolling boy
  10. After Fred's speech praising Christmas for bringing good to humankind, Bob Cratchit applauds "involuntarily". What does this mean?
    Bob Cratchit agrees so completely with Fred that he forgets for a moment that his job depends on pleasing Scrooge

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