Study Questions for A Christmas Carol

Despite its brevity in comparison to Dickens's novels, A Christmas Carol is arguably the author's most famous work. Its fame, however, may not be dependent on people actually reading the text. How has this short, sentimental fiction become so well known in our culture? What are the "transmission routes" for its fame?

If the claim in the first question is correct, what is it in A Christmas Carol that makes it, more than 160 years after its first publication, so resolutely popular? The characters? The narrative? The sentimental message?

A Christmas Carol may be popular for its supernatural elements, but Dickens is also powerfully focused throughout the text on certain social issues. What are some of these issues? Is the Carol in some ways as much a piece of realist fiction as a supernatural parable?

How is Christmas characterized in this story? Are there connections to be made from this tale to the Christmas celebrations in Pickwick?

What's a "stave," why is this story broken into five of them, and why might that matter for the structure and/or meaning of the tale?

If this piece is to a large extent a parable, does it follow that Scrooge as a character is one-dimensional or unrealistic? What complexities can we discover in Scrooge or in the way that Dickens depicts him?

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