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Explore How Themes Develop in the Play 'A Christmas Carol'

In this worksheet, students will be able to explore how themes develop in the novel.

'Explore How Themes Develop in the Play '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 victorian london

 

Themes are underlying in most pieces of literature.  A theme could be likened to a topic, main idea or underlying meaning.

 

 Themes are particularly useful in highlighting to the reader key issues of the time, or things that were important to the author that they want to explore.  Some themes are very obvious, and others are much more subtle.

 

In a Christmas Carol, Dickens tackles several key themes in his work.  Some of the key themes we're going to look at are Christmas, Redemption and Social InjusticeWe're also going to explore how themes develop through the novel.

 

Have a think... what do you know about Dickens, and why do you think these were themes that he wanted to include in his work? 

 

Remember, it's always important to know a bit about the background of the authors you are studying.  So... if you haven't already, why not create a fact file on Charles Dickens.  It may change the way you read his famous works!

 

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

 

Image result for victorian london

 

The novel was written and set in 1843.  What concerns were common in Victorian London at this time? 

Child labour

Poverty

Overcrowding

Too much traffic

Little support from the rich

Pollution from factories

Expensive medical care

Too many ghosts floating around

The Poor Laws were introduced in 1834 and were supposed to be helpful for the poor population. 

 

What provisions for poor people did the Poor Laws include? 

Debtors' prisons

The Tread-mill

NHS free prescriptions

Workhouses

Child benefit

Punishment for not trying to earn money

Which characters are used by Dickens to highlight some of the issues in Victorian London?

 

Match the character(s) with the theme that Dickens is showing: 

Column A

Column B

Compassion
Ignorance and Want
Responsibility
The Cratchits
Poverty
Martha
Child labour
Scrooge
Ignorance
Jacob Marley
Redemption
Fred/Bob

Image result for victorian london

 

How has Dickens used parts of the novel to show readers what London was like at this time?

 

Match the part of the novel with the correct description of Victorian London:

Column A

Column B

Scrooge thinks the poor should go to workhouses if...
Rich people had more than they needed to be comfor...
Joe's shop in the black market is dirty and people...
Children as young as four often had to work to hel...
Martha is already working and Bob has also found a...
Many people had to live in poor, cramped, unhygien...
Scrooge lives in a huge house on his own, but only...
Infant mortality was high in the Victorian era, as...
Tiny Tim dies at a young age
The charity workers tell Scrooge that the poor wou...
A carol singer tries to earn a little bit of mone...
Young children (orphans) often lived on the street...

Dickens used his characters to voice a message for him in the novel. Some of the speeches are a direct reference to the ideas he wanted to get across to his audience.  

 

Match the speech to the character and themes that it represents: 

Column A

Column B

"Although it's never put a scrap of gold or silver...
Jacob Marley - greed and poverty
"Mankind was my business! The common welfare was m...
The Ghost of Christmas Present - education of the ...
"This boy is ignorance - beware him the most for o...
Fred - Christmas spirit

Image result for victorian ghosts

 

Victorians' and the supernatural.

 

Fill in the missing words from the description of Marley's ghost as it first appears.  You will need your copy of the text to help you with this.

Column A

Column B

"Although it's never put a scrap of gold or silver...
Jacob Marley - greed and poverty
"Mankind was my business! The common welfare was m...
The Ghost of Christmas Present - education of the ...
"This boy is ignorance - beware him the most for o...
Fred - Christmas spirit

Can you work out the correct theme described in the quotes below?  Write your answer as a capital letter.

 

 

A

 

B C
"Solitary as an oyster" "But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge!" "I will not shut out the lessons that they (the ghosts) teach"
"Scrooge it was, I passed his office window ...and there he sat quite alone" 'It was a small pudding for a large family' "But as I know your purpose is to do me good, I am prepared to bear your company and do it with a thankful heart."
'A solitary child neglected by his friends is left their still' 'Every person has a right to take care of themselves.  He always did.' " I see the case of the unhappy man might be my own."

 

Column A

Column B

"Although it's never put a scrap of gold or silver...
Jacob Marley - greed and poverty
"Mankind was my business! The common welfare was m...
The Ghost of Christmas Present - education of the ...
"This boy is ignorance - beware him the most for o...
Fred - Christmas spirit

How does Dickens present the idea of family in the novel?  

 

Fill in the blanks to describe how Dickens presents a good Victorian family.

 

For blanks 2, 4 and 7, choose the most suitable words from the options below:

 

 

money

compassion

death

loving

happiness

appreciate 

Fred

Column A

Column B

"Although it's never put a scrap of gold or silver...
Jacob Marley - greed and poverty
"Mankind was my business! The common welfare was m...
The Ghost of Christmas Present - education of the ...
"This boy is ignorance - beware him the most for o...
Fred - Christmas spirit

Image result for christmas spirit

 

Read the following extract.

 


"To Mr Scrooge! The founder of the feast!"  cried Bob.
"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!"


"My dear" said Bob, "the children; it's Christmas Day." 
"It should be Christmas Day, I am sure on which one drinks the health of such an odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man as Mr Scrooge.  You know he is Robert!  Nobody knows it better than you do, poor fellow!"


"My dear," was Bob's mild answer, "Christmas Day."
"I'll drink his health for your sake and the Day's," said Mrs Cratchit, "not for his.  Long life to him! A merry Christmas and a happy New Year! - he'll be very merry and very happy, I have no doubt!"

 

The two characters appear to repeat each other, but with a very different sentiment.  Which character best supports the theme of Christmas spirit in this extract?

Tiny Tim

Mrs Cratchit

Scrooge

Bob Cratchit

Lastly - try this short quiz to test that you are a theme master! 

 

What themes are represented in the following quotes:

 PovertySupernaturalReligionChristmas spiritRedemption
The cellar door flew open
"God bless us every one!"
"To the founder of the feast Mr Scrooge"
Such a small pudding for such a large family
Marley was dead: to begin with
Scrooge did it all and infinitely more
  • Question 1

Image result for victorian london

 

The novel was written and set in 1843.  What concerns were common in Victorian London at this time? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Child labour
Poverty
Overcrowding
Little support from the rich
Pollution from factories
Expensive medical care
EDDIE SAYS
There were quite a few concerns at this time. The Industrial Revolution was responsible for many - overcrowding, pollution and not enough jobs, as machinery was taking over. It was a pretty traumatic time for those living in London. The streets were pretty dirty too - sewage ran through them and into the River Thames, which can't have been pleasant!
  • Question 2

The Poor Laws were introduced in 1834 and were supposed to be helpful for the poor population. 

 

What provisions for poor people did the Poor Laws include? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Debtors' prisons
The Tread-mill
Workhouses
Punishment for not trying to earn money
EDDIE SAYS
These laws were introduced several years before Dickens wrote the novel. They were introduced to help the poor - but they really didn't! Workhouses were very overcrowded and had really awful conditions. People were treated cruelly, the food was terrible and a lot of people died in them because of disease. Unfortunately, a lot of rich people didn't realise how bad this was for the poor - like Scrooge. They thought they were 'useful' institutions!
  • Question 3

Which characters are used by Dickens to highlight some of the issues in Victorian London?

 

Match the character(s) with the theme that Dickens is showing: 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Compassion
Fred/Bob
Responsibility
Ignorance and Want
Poverty
The Cratchits
Child labour
Martha
Ignorance
Jacob Marley
Redemption
Scrooge
EDDIE SAYS
Dickens used his characters to pass on his message. Poor Jacob Marley is bound in heavy chains forever in the afterlife, because of his greed in life. He is there to warn Scrooge to change, otherwise he will have the same fate. This may have shocked (and worried) a few Victorians, who felt the same way as Scrooge before they read the novel!
  • Question 4

Image result for victorian london

 

How has Dickens used parts of the novel to show readers what London was like at this time?

 

Match the part of the novel with the correct description of Victorian London:

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Scrooge thinks the poor should go...
The charity workers tell Scrooge ...
Joe's shop in the black market is...
Many people had to live in poor, ...
Martha is already working and Bob...
Children as young as four often h...
Scrooge lives in a huge house on ...
Rich people had more than they ne...
Tiny Tim dies at a young age
Infant mortality was high in the ...
A carol singer tries to earn a li...
Young children (orphans) often li...
EDDIE SAYS
If you had plenty of money in Victorian London, you were pretty lucky. For the mass majority who were poor, life was pretty grim and the provisions for the poor were not great! Can you imagine what your life would've been if you'd been born in Victorian London?
  • Question 5

Dickens used his characters to voice a message for him in the novel. Some of the speeches are a direct reference to the ideas he wanted to get across to his audience.  

 

Match the speech to the character and themes that it represents: 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"Although it's never put a scrap ...
Fred - Christmas spirit
"Mankind was my business! The com...
Jacob Marley - greed and poverty
"This boy is ignorance - beware h...
The Ghost of Christmas Present - ...
EDDIE SAYS
Dickens always makes sure he gets his message into his novels to try to educate his readers about real issues. Some of the speeches are quite long, and can be a bit tricky to understand. Try to refer back to theme if you find this to be the case - it will be linked to an issue that Dickens was aiming to show his readers.
  • Question 6

Image result for victorian ghosts

 

Victorians' and the supernatural.

 

Fill in the missing words from the description of Marley's ghost as it first appears.  You will need your copy of the text to help you with this.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Victorian society loved a good ghost story. It was a really popular genre of the era, and Dickens knew that it would make his novels more appealing. His description before Marley appears is pretty long. He wanted to create tension before the first ghost appears - plus he was paid by the word, so made sure he earned a fair bit of money!
  • Question 7

Can you work out the correct theme described in the quotes below?  Write your answer as a capital letter.

 

 

A

 

B C
"Solitary as an oyster" "But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge!" "I will not shut out the lessons that they (the ghosts) teach"
"Scrooge it was, I passed his office window ...and there he sat quite alone" 'It was a small pudding for a large family' "But as I know your purpose is to do me good, I am prepared to bear your company and do it with a thankful heart."
'A solitary child neglected by his friends is left their still' 'Every person has a right to take care of themselves.  He always did.' " I see the case of the unhappy man might be my own."

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Each of the quotes matches to a theme. Did you correctly identify them? It is worth making a record of some key quotes as you go as these can be used in your answers to show a sound understanding of the text.
  • Question 8

How does Dickens present the idea of family in the novel?  

 

Fill in the blanks to describe how Dickens presents a good Victorian family.

 

For blanks 2, 4 and 7, choose the most suitable words from the options below:

 

 

money

compassion

death

loving

happiness

appreciate 

Fred

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do here? Dickens is using family to show that it doesn't matter how much money you have, being loving, caring and compassionate is the most important quality that anyone can have - even Scrooge manages this by the end!
  • Question 9

Image result for christmas spirit

 

Read the following extract.

 


"To Mr Scrooge! The founder of the feast!"  cried Bob.
"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!"


"My dear" said Bob, "the children; it's Christmas Day." 
"It should be Christmas Day, I am sure on which one drinks the health of such an odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man as Mr Scrooge.  You know he is Robert!  Nobody knows it better than you do, poor fellow!"


"My dear," was Bob's mild answer, "Christmas Day."
"I'll drink his health for your sake and the Day's," said Mrs Cratchit, "not for his.  Long life to him! A merry Christmas and a happy New Year! - he'll be very merry and very happy, I have no doubt!"

 

The two characters appear to repeat each other, but with a very different sentiment.  Which character best supports the theme of Christmas spirit in this extract?

CORRECT ANSWER
Bob Cratchit
EDDIE SAYS
Bob shows that he is a really good character in this extract. He doesn't hold a grudge against Scrooge, even though he treats him badly, and pays him very little. Bob is grateful to be spending the day with his family - the repetition of 'It's Christmas Day my dear' shows that Bob does not hold a grudge towards how his boss has treated him throughout the year. In this extract, he not only shows Christmas spirit, but compassion too. It's also a great representation of a strong family bond as well.
  • Question 10

Lastly - try this short quiz to test that you are a theme master! 

 

What themes are represented in the following quotes:

CORRECT ANSWER
 PovertySupernaturalReligionChristmas spiritRedemption
The cellar door flew open
"God bless us every one!"
"To the founder of the feast Mr Scrooge"
Such a small pudding for such a large family
Marley was dead: to begin with
Scrooge did it all and infinitely more
EDDIE SAYS
Well done! You should be a total expert at exploring the themes in the novel. Great work!
Try it ---- OR ----

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