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Identify Key Themes in 'A Christmas Carol'

In this worksheet, students will be able to identify key themes in 'A Christmas Carol'.

'Identify Key Themes in 'A Christmas Carol'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   Eduqas, OCR, Pearson Edexcel, AQA

Curriculum topic:   19th Century Prose, 19th Century Novel, The 19th Century Novel

Curriculum subtopic:   A Christmas Carol

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Image result for poverty victorian era

 

Authors often use themes in a novel to raise the awareness of key issues at the time of writing.  They may also use themes to raise awareness of causes that are close to their hearts.  A theme is a recurring link through a novel that draws attention. 

 

In this activity, you will learn how to identify key themes in 'A Christmas Carol'.  Before we start, can you think of any themes that Dickens used in 'Christmas Carol'?   If you know some of his other works, you may have spotted that there are recurring themes through many of Dickens' most famous works.


You should always refer to your own text when working through these examples.  These quotations are for reference only.

Image result for supernatural victorian

 

What genre of novel is 'A Christmas Carol'? 

 

Can you think why Dickens chose this major theme to write his story? 

Romance

Science- Fiction

Supernatural

Crime Thriller

A Christmas Carol was published in 1843.  As with many novels, the major themes reflect issues which affected society in that era. 

 

Thinking about context, what other themes do you think were included in the novel? 

Poverty

The monarchy

Social responsibility

Conflict

Charity

Family

Redemption

Patriotism

What were common issues that affected the poor in Victorian society?  

 

Mark the options below as true or false.

Column A

Column B

The rich believed the poor were lazy and deserved ...
True
The rich believed the poor should starve to death ...
False
Workhouses were really nice places
False
The poor could claim welfare to help them
True
Children as young as four sometimes had to work to...
True
Infant mortality was high because the poor couldn'...
True

Image result for christmas fruit

 

Several families are presented in the novel. 

 

Match the family (or character) to the correct description below.

 

Think about how each family is used to show readers the theme of family values.

 

 

Column A

Column B

The Cratchits
Happy with a close bond between father and daughte...
Belle and her family
Died a lonely man without any family apart from hi...
Fred and Scrooge
A poor, but loving and caring family.
Jacob Marley
Fred doesn't give up on Scrooge even though Scroog...

"They were a boy and girl.  Yellow, meager, ragged, scowling, wolfish but prostate too in their humility.  Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with their freshest tints, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age had pinched and twisted them and pulled them to shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacingly.  No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity in any grade, through all the mysteries of the wonderful creation, has monsters so half so horrible and dread." 

 

What themes do the children Ignorance and Want represent?

 

Lack of education about the poor and poverty

Lack of Christmas spirit and religion

The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to five different past scenes.  For each scene, Scrooge shows his emotions and regrets how he has treated people previously.  

 

Can you match each scene that he is taken to with what he regrets after watching the scene? 

Column A

Column B

A lonely young Scrooge left at school at Christmas
Lost love
An older Scrooge who is taken home by his sister
Treating his nephew (Fan's son) badly
Fezziwig's party
The carol singer that he threw a ruler at in stave...
Belle breaking up with him
Lost family and particularly the bond between fath...
Belle and her family
Treating Bob badly

 Image result for christmas spirit victorian

 

Before 'A Christmas Carol' was published, Christmas celebrations such as carol singing and parties weren't as popular.  The novel re-ignited the passion for jovial celebrations and it's still traditional to this day.  

 

Dickens also thought that to be good Christians, people should do good deeds and be generous, especially at Christmas. 

 

Can you think of some examples of how Christmas spirit is represented in the novel?

 

The charitable gentlemen

Fred

The Cratchits' Christmas lunch

Fezziwig's party

The men at sea, the lighthouse keepers and the miners

Scrooge's redemption

As the ghosts show Scrooge different scenes, Scrooge starts to show compassion and starts to change how he behaves.  

 

Match the ghost to the scene that is shown to Scrooge, which makes him change his ways. 

Column A

Column B

Tiny Tim's death
Past
Fan taking him home from school
Present
Fred's party
Past
Fezziwig's party
Yet to Come
His death
Present
Ignorance and Want
Yet to Come

Image result for scrooge

 

Can you match the following quotes with the themes they are linked to?

Column A

Column B

"Marley was dead: to begin with"
Charity/education
"Tell me Tiny Tim will live?"
Redemption
"There was a boy at my door last night. I wish I'...
Family
"Are there no prisons?"
Supernatural
"Such a small goose for such a large family"
Regret
"This boy is Ignorance, this girl is Want"
Social responsibility
"Then all the Cratchit family drew around the hear...
Poverty

How much do you remember?

 

Have a go at this quick quiz to re-cap your learning. 

  • Question 1

Image result for supernatural victorian

 

What genre of novel is 'A Christmas Carol'? 

 

Can you think why Dickens chose this major theme to write his story? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Supernatural
EDDIE SAYS
The main theme of the novel is the supernatural. There are four ghosts in total and the initial setting is dark and gloomy, which gives an eerie atmosphere. Victorians loved the supernatural, which meant the novel would have a wider audience.
  • Question 2

A Christmas Carol was published in 1843.  As with many novels, the major themes reflect issues which affected society in that era. 

 

Thinking about context, what other themes do you think were included in the novel? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Poverty
Social responsibility
Charity
Family
Redemption
EDDIE SAYS
The novel is set in Victorian London. Dickens was mainly highlighting issues that affected the poor and was encouraging society to understand how they were suffering. The Industrial Revolution led to issues of overcrowding and less employment in London. In addition, there was a dramatic population increase which made matters more severe.
  • Question 3

What were common issues that affected the poor in Victorian society?  

 

Mark the options below as true or false.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

The rich believed the poor were l...
True
The rich believed the poor should...
True
Workhouses were really nice place...
False
The poor could claim welfare to h...
False
Children as young as four sometim...
True
Infant mortality was high because...
True
EDDIE SAYS
Some of these facts are pretty shocking, and rich society didn't understand how bad the conditions were for poor people. A set of laws called The Poor Laws were introduced in 1834 which were supposed to 'help' the poor - but they really didn't. These included workhouses - truly awful places, debtors' prisons - even worse, and the poor being punished by their local parish if they didn't earn money!
  • Question 4

Image result for christmas fruit

 

Several families are presented in the novel. 

 

Match the family (or character) to the correct description below.

 

Think about how each family is used to show readers the theme of family values.

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

The Cratchits
A poor, but loving and caring fam...
Belle and her family
Happy with a close bond between f...
Fred and Scrooge
Fred doesn't give up on Scrooge e...
Jacob Marley
Died a lonely man without any fam...
EDDIE SAYS
The Ghost of Christmas Past shows Scrooge how he was abandoned as a child at school at Christmas time. This highlights to the reader that Scrooge isn't aware of family values as he missed out on them. He is also shown other happy families that have a close bond, even if they don't have much wealth. This was an important way to show Victorian society that 'the poor' were human beings - not just a label.
  • Question 5

"They were a boy and girl.  Yellow, meager, ragged, scowling, wolfish but prostate too in their humility.  Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with their freshest tints, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age had pinched and twisted them and pulled them to shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacingly.  No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity in any grade, through all the mysteries of the wonderful creation, has monsters so half so horrible and dread." 

 

What themes do the children Ignorance and Want represent?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Lack of education about the poor and poverty
EDDIE SAYS
Good work if you chose A! Dickens has various ways to make sure his message gets across to his audience. Ignorance and Want represent the need for the rich to educate themselves about the poor and to be more charitable. He presented these children in a frightening way to shock the Victorian readers and make them think about their own understanding of the plights of the poor.
  • Question 6

The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to five different past scenes.  For each scene, Scrooge shows his emotions and regrets how he has treated people previously.  

 

Can you match each scene that he is taken to with what he regrets after watching the scene? 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

A lonely young Scrooge left at sc...
The carol singer that he threw a ...
An older Scrooge who is taken hom...
Treating his nephew (Fan's son) b...
Fezziwig's party
Treating Bob badly
Belle breaking up with him
Lost love
Belle and her family
Lost family and particularly the ...
EDDIE SAYS
Scrooge starts to realise that some of his past decisions cannot be altered. He will never experience having a loving family, as it's too late. He does however realise that he can start treating Fred, Bob and others around him more kindly - hooray for Scrooge!
  • Question 7

 Image result for christmas spirit victorian

 

Before 'A Christmas Carol' was published, Christmas celebrations such as carol singing and parties weren't as popular.  The novel re-ignited the passion for jovial celebrations and it's still traditional to this day.  

 

Dickens also thought that to be good Christians, people should do good deeds and be generous, especially at Christmas. 

 

Can you think of some examples of how Christmas spirit is represented in the novel?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The charitable gentlemen
Fred
The Cratchits' Christmas lunch
Fezziwig's party
The men at sea, the lighthouse keepers and the miners
Scrooge's redemption
EDDIE SAYS
This one was a little tricky, as these are all examples of Christmas spirit! Dickens shows Scrooge's miserable Christmas life by comparing it to others and how happy it made them, even if they didn't have much money. Victorian society would also be keen to be seen as good Christians, which is why the traditions became more popular after they'd read it.
  • Question 8

As the ghosts show Scrooge different scenes, Scrooge starts to show compassion and starts to change how he behaves.  

 

Match the ghost to the scene that is shown to Scrooge, which makes him change his ways. 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Tiny Tim's death
Yet to Come
Fan taking him home from school
Past
Fred's party
Present
Fezziwig's party
Past
His death
Yet to Come
Ignorance and Want
Present
EDDIE SAYS
Scrooge changes his ways after seeing all of the scenes the ghosts show him. Stave five is about his redemption: He helps Bob and his family out, he donates a lot of money to help the poor and he goes to Fred's house for Christmas lunch. Plus, he is happy and even laughs!
  • Question 9

Image result for scrooge

 

Can you match the following quotes with the themes they are linked to?

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"Marley was dead: to begin with"
Supernatural
"Tell me Tiny Tim will live?"
Redemption
"There was a boy at my door last ...
Regret
"Are there no prisons?"
Social responsibility
"Such a small goose for such a la...
Poverty
"This boy is Ignorance, this girl...
Charity/education
"Then all the Cratchit family dre...
Family
EDDIE SAYS
It's important to remember themes, as they link to context. Readers would be able to understand the meaning as it was affecting them at the time they read it. It might be useful to create a theme poster using some linked quotes to help you remember themes.
  • Question 10

How much do you remember?

 

Have a go at this quick quiz to re-cap your learning. 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Well done! You've completed the theme worksheet. The Poor Laws were introduced in 1834 - 9, years before the novel was written, so Dickens knew how little they actually helped the poor.
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