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Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Presentation of Themes in 'A Christmas Carol'

In this worksheet, students will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of themes in A Christmas Carol.

'Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Presentation of 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

The average school term is six weeks... did you know that is exactly the same length of time it took Charles Dickens to write 'A Christmas Carol'?  Impressive right?

 

Throughout his life, Dickens worked with charities to tackle key social issues, he certainly couldn't be described as a 'Bah Humbug'.  He was particularly concerned about the outcome of impoverished children who turned to crime.  He was passionate about education, and how it had the potential to improve children's lives.  Do you see evidence of this in the story?

 

As you read this work you will be aware that Dickens explores many key themes.  Some of these include redemption, Christmas, compassion, the role of family, and forgiveness.  

 

It's important that you understand these themes, can find support for them within the text and can explain the impact of these themes on the reader.

 

Image result for themes a christmas carol

 

In this activity, you will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of key themes in 'A Christmas Carol'.

 

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

Image result for marley's ghost

 

The appearance of Jacob Marley's ghost is full of supernatural suspense. 

 

Lots of strange things happen before the ghost appears. Put the events in their chronological order.

Column A

Column B

First
The bells in Scrooge's house start to ring
Second
Scrooge sees Marley's face in the door knocker
Third
Scrooge checks his house for intruders
Fourth
Marley's face appears in the tiles in the fireplac...
Fifth
Scrooge eats dinner and reads the newspaper
Sixth
Scrooge gets ready for bed
Seventh
The sound of clanking chains frightens Scrooge

The four ghosts that visit Scrooge each represent different themes in the novel.

 

Match the ghost with the themes that each links to. 

Column A

Column B

Jacob Marley
Poverty, religion, Christmas spirit, supernatural
The Ghost of Christmas Past
Loneliness, redemption, death, supernatural
The Ghost of Christmas Present
Supernatural, regret, greed, compassion
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
Memories, supernatural, loneliness, regret

Which of the following are used as motifs in A Christmas Carol?

Christmas trees

Scrooge's bed

Dark and light

The Cratchits' Christmas lunch

Belle and her family

Cold and heat

A lot of symbolism and motifs in 'A Christmas Carol' relate to themes in the story.

 

Symbolism:

Music is often used to symbolise the joy of the Christmas season, and the novel is called 'A Christmas Carol'. The naming of the chapters ‘staves’ further emphasises this musical symbolism.

 

Chains and cashboxes around Marley represent greed and avarice in life. 

 

How does the symbol of the weather reflect to motifs and themes in the novel?

 

 

Fog is caused by the smog from the Industrial Revolution

Bad weather reflects greed , and good weather reflects redemption

Bad weather links to the motif of cold and heat

Dickens liked cold weather so decided to write about it

For this question you will need to write an essay consisting of a minimum of two paragraphs with the title: 

 

  How does Dickens present ideas about greed in the novel?

 

You might want to think about Scrooge at the start of the story and the message Marley's ghost gives Scrooge at the end of stave one.  

How are the following motifs used in the novel? 

Column A

Column B

Time
Darkness represents Scrooge's dark soul at the sta...
Scrooge's bed
The whole novel is set in a twenty four hour perio...
Dark and light
Fred and Scrooge are a juxtaposition of each other...
Cold and heat
Scrooge is in his bed each time a ghost appears. ...

How does Dickens present the motif of cold and heat in this extract?

 

Underline two examples (each consisting of 3 words) in the extract that show the reader what a miserable and cold place that Scrooge and poor Bob Cratchit had to work in.

The door of Scrooge\'s counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire.

​"When Scrooge awoke, it was so dark, that looking out of bed, he could scarcely distinguish the transparent window from the opaque walls of his chamber. He was endeavouring to pierce the darkness with his ferret eyes, when the chimes of a neighbouring church struck the four quarters. So he listened for the hour.

 

To his great astonishment the heavy bell went on from six to seven, and from seven to eight, and regularly up to twelve; then stopped. Twelve! It was past two when he went to bed. The clock was wrong. An icicle must have got into the works. Twelve!

 

He touched the spring of his repeater, to correct this most preposterous clock. Its rapid little pulse beat twelve: and stopped.

 

"Why, it isn't possible,'' said Scrooge, "that I can have slept through a whole day and far into another night. It isn't possible that anything has happened to the sun, and this is twelve at noon!''

 

The idea being an alarming one, he scrambled out of bed, and groped his way to the window. He was obliged to rub the frost off with the sleeve of his dressing-gown before he could see anything; and could see very little then."

 

 

Which themes and motifs are represented in this extract?

Scrooge's bed

Time

Light and dark

Compassion

Charity

Cold and heat

How does Dickens present the spirit of Christmas in this extract? (10 marks)

 

"For, the people who were shovelling away on the housetops were jovial and full of glee; calling out to one another from the parapets, and now and then exchanging a facetious snowball -- better-natured missile far than many a wordy jest -- laughing heartily if it went right and not less heartily if it went wrong.

 

The poulterers' shops were still half open, and the fruiterers' were radiant in their glory. There were great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen, lolling at the doors, and tumbling out into the street in their apoplectic opulence. There were ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Friars, and winking from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went by, and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. There were pears and apples, clustered high in blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the shopkeepers" benevolence to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that people's mouths might water gratis as they passed; there were piles of filberts, mossy and brown, recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks among the woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle-deep through withered leaves; there were Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting off the yellow of the oranges and lemons, and, in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner.

 

The very gold and silverfish, set forth among these choice fruits in a bowl, though members of a dull and stagnant-blooded race, appeared to know that there was something going on; and, to a fish, went gasping round and round their little world in slow and passionless excitement.

And last of all - try this final quiz to test your knowledge.

 

Tick all the correct answers,

 

Good luck!

Fred represents the motif of heat

Scrooge's office is warm and cosy

Each ghost appears to Scrooge on a different day

Bells are used as a symbol of time

The Ghost of Christmas Past is a motif of light

Scrooge is described using cold language at the start

People are grumbling that they need to shovel snow on Christmas Day

Scrooge is too mean to buy coal for his employee

  • Question 1

Image result for marley's ghost

 

The appearance of Jacob Marley's ghost is full of supernatural suspense. 

 

Lots of strange things happen before the ghost appears. Put the events in their chronological order.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

First
Scrooge eats dinner and reads the...
Second
Scrooge sees Marley's face in the...
Third
Scrooge checks his house for intr...
Fourth
Scrooge gets ready for bed
Fifth
Marley's face appears in the tile...
Sixth
The bells in Scrooge's house star...
Seventh
The sound of clanking chains frig...
EDDIE SAYS
Scrooge doesn't believe that any of the strange things that happen are real. He is scared though, as he keeps checking everything and seems a bit unsure. He finally believes Marley is really there when he takes off his bandage holding his broken jaw together! Good start, let's carry on.
  • Question 2

The four ghosts that visit Scrooge each represent different themes in the novel.

 

Match the ghost with the themes that each links to. 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Jacob Marley
Supernatural, regret, greed, comp...
The Ghost of Christmas Past
Memories, supernatural, lonelines...
The Ghost of Christmas Present
Poverty, religion, Christmas spir...
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Com...
Loneliness, redemption, death, su...
EDDIE SAYS
All of the ghosts represent the supernatural theme. Also, they are there to show Scrooge different lessons; these are linked to varying themes in the novel. It's a good idea to make notes as you work through the activities - you can use them to make flashcards and revision posters later. I
  • Question 3

Which of the following are used as motifs in A Christmas Carol?

CORRECT ANSWER
Scrooge's bed
Dark and light
Cold and heat
EDDIE SAYS
Motifs add to the theme in a text. In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge's bed is the place he is before meeting the ghosts, and the place he wakes up after seeing the last ghost. He wakes up in a much better mood than at the start and even starts laughing! Scrooge is a 'dark' character initially, until the ghosts help him transform into a 'light' character. The contrast between cold and warmth in the characters is most obvious between Scrooge and Fred - shown by the technique of pathetic fallacy.
  • Question 4

A lot of symbolism and motifs in 'A Christmas Carol' relate to themes in the story.

 

Symbolism:

Music is often used to symbolise the joy of the Christmas season, and the novel is called 'A Christmas Carol'. The naming of the chapters ‘staves’ further emphasises this musical symbolism.

 

Chains and cashboxes around Marley represent greed and avarice in life. 

 

How does the symbol of the weather reflect to motifs and themes in the novel?

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Fog is caused by the smog from the Industrial Revolution
Bad weather reflects greed , and good weather reflects redemption
Bad weather links to the motif of cold and heat
EDDIE SAYS
Good work for spotting these answers! Evaluating symbolism in the novel will help to show your examiner that you can dig a little deeper in your analysis. (it's always a good thing to impress examiners when you can!) Symbols are often used as representatives of the themes in the text. A good example is how the weather changes through the novel, according to the characters. The whole novel is set over two days - Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. However, the weather is either dark and gloomy or clear and bright. This further links to the motifs of dark and light, and cold and heat. Think about how Scrooge is described at the start when he is at his worst! The fog can be seen as a symbol of ignorance (both of the higher classes knowledge of the poor and of Scrooge’s ignorance of the corrosive way in which he lives and its impact). The weather changes from gloomy and foggy to the bright light of redemption when Scrooge changes in Stave five.
  • Question 5

For this question you will need to write an essay consisting of a minimum of two paragraphs with the title: 

 

  How does Dickens present ideas about greed in the novel?

 

You might want to think about Scrooge at the start of the story and the message Marley's ghost gives Scrooge at the end of stave one.  

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example of a model answer: 3: Dickens uses the symbol of chains around Jacob Marley's ghost to represent the idea of greed in the novel. Marley "wears the chains he forged in life" due to his selfish and greedy behaviour in life. The chains are long and heavy and it is too late for Marley to redeem himself, but it is not too late for Scrooge. Furthermore, Dickens may have used this symbol to pass on this important message to Victorian society, who may have shared the same opinion about the poor.
  • Question 6

How are the following motifs used in the novel? 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Time
The whole novel is set in a twent...
Scrooge's bed
Scrooge is in his bed each time a...
Dark and light
Darkness represents Scrooge's dar...
Cold and heat
Fred and Scrooge are a juxtaposit...
EDDIE SAYS
Try looking through your text for examples of how motifs are presented. Bells are often referred to also - they are a representation of time, but also associated with Christmas. A lot of the themes linked to Christmas in the novel are still popular today even after almost two hundred years!
  • Question 7

How does Dickens present the motif of cold and heat in this extract?

 

Underline two examples (each consisting of 3 words) in the extract that show the reader what a miserable and cold place that Scrooge and poor Bob Cratchit had to work in.

CORRECT ANSWER
The door of Scrooge's counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire.
EDDIE SAYS
Is this getting easier? This is an extract form the start of stave one. The office is described as a dark and dingy place and is probably freezing because Scrooge is too mean to pay for enough coal. It links really well with the motif of cold and heat and highlights Scrooge's greed right from the start. Motifs can be used to link to theme. In this case, the lack of heat for Bob links to Scrooge's greed - poor Bob Cratchit!
  • Question 8

​"When Scrooge awoke, it was so dark, that looking out of bed, he could scarcely distinguish the transparent window from the opaque walls of his chamber. He was endeavouring to pierce the darkness with his ferret eyes, when the chimes of a neighbouring church struck the four quarters. So he listened for the hour.

 

To his great astonishment the heavy bell went on from six to seven, and from seven to eight, and regularly up to twelve; then stopped. Twelve! It was past two when he went to bed. The clock was wrong. An icicle must have got into the works. Twelve!

 

He touched the spring of his repeater, to correct this most preposterous clock. Its rapid little pulse beat twelve: and stopped.

 

"Why, it isn't possible,'' said Scrooge, "that I can have slept through a whole day and far into another night. It isn't possible that anything has happened to the sun, and this is twelve at noon!''

 

The idea being an alarming one, he scrambled out of bed, and groped his way to the window. He was obliged to rub the frost off with the sleeve of his dressing-gown before he could see anything; and could see very little then."

 

 

Which themes and motifs are represented in this extract?

CORRECT ANSWER
Scrooge's bed
Time
Light and dark
Cold and heat
EDDIE SAYS
Scrooge is still not sure if the ghost will appear. He listens intently to the church chiming the hour. It gives a sense of confusion to the time of day and even Scrooge is flummoxed by whether it is night or day. The control of time has been taken away from Scrooge, so he is already out of his comfort zone before the ghost appears and more than a little confused!
  • Question 9

How does Dickens present the spirit of Christmas in this extract? (10 marks)

 

"For, the people who were shovelling away on the housetops were jovial and full of glee; calling out to one another from the parapets, and now and then exchanging a facetious snowball -- better-natured missile far than many a wordy jest -- laughing heartily if it went right and not less heartily if it went wrong.

 

The poulterers' shops were still half open, and the fruiterers' were radiant in their glory. There were great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen, lolling at the doors, and tumbling out into the street in their apoplectic opulence. There were ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Friars, and winking from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went by, and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. There were pears and apples, clustered high in blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the shopkeepers" benevolence to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that people's mouths might water gratis as they passed; there were piles of filberts, mossy and brown, recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks among the woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle-deep through withered leaves; there were Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting off the yellow of the oranges and lemons, and, in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner.

 

The very gold and silverfish, set forth among these choice fruits in a bowl, though members of a dull and stagnant-blooded race, appeared to know that there was something going on; and, to a fish, went gasping round and round their little world in slow and passionless excitement.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Some examples that could be included: "The people who were shovelling away on the housetops were jovial and full of glee" - this suggests even a manual job is not stopping their happy mood. The words "jovial" and "glee" suggest excitement and good spirits, which Dickens is trying to suggest embodies Christmas spirit.
  • Question 10

And last of all - try this final quiz to test your knowledge.

 

Tick all the correct answers,

 

Good luck!

CORRECT ANSWER
Fred represents the motif of heat
Bells are used as a symbol of time
The Ghost of Christmas Past is a motif of light
Scrooge is described using cold language at the start
Scrooge is too mean to buy coal for his employee
EDDIE SAYS
Well done - you are now an expert on the themes, motifs and symbols used in 'A Christmas Carol'!
Try it ---- OR ----

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