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Document 1- Introductory Paragraph to “A  Christmas Carol”

MARLEY WAS DEAD, TO BEGIN WITH. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it-and Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to.

Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.

Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge and he were partners for I don’t know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and solemnized it with an undoubted bargain.

The mention of Marley’s funeral brings me back to the point I started from. There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly  understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.

This is how the story begins as Charles Dickens unfolds a tale that takes place in one night but covers a lifetime.

Who do you think the main character is in this introduction?_______________________

Who is the other character?_____________________

What is the relationship of the two named characters to each other?_________________________

Dickens hints that this story will have a quality of wonderful, yet he mentions a death several times.  You can predict what might happen in this story by looking at several key words. The word “sole” is used several times. What is the definition of sole as it is used here?_____________________________

What is a similar word?_________________ Use either word in a sentence.


Think about how the repeated use of this word might foreshadow what the story may be about.

What other words can you find that you think may be important to this story?____________________________

Background Information:

In 1843 Charles Dickens decided to write a short Christmas story for the first time. It had been his job  to write long novels in serialized forms for magazines. Readers would look forward to a chapter each week until the long story would be completed. Today we can read David Copperfield  , Oliver Twist and many other stories in complete versions.

A Christmas Carol was meant to be read in one volume. Dickens’ preface to his story reads   “ I have endeavored in this ghostly little book, to raise the ghost of an idea…. “  This tale was so popular that for the next four years he continued to write other stories for the season. The Christmas books became famous in Victorian England for the special message they brought to readers as they  celebrated  the season. Today we can read the story  not only for its holiday setting, but also for  the lesson it gives to us about living a good life.

After you see this story  “A Christmas Carol” performed by Ulster Ballet, you will be able to summarize some key ideas about the characters and see how you can possibly apply some lessons to your own life.

Some ideas to think about:

What choices do people make that effect one’s lifestyle?

How does one’s past experiences influence one’s future?

What priorities do people give to certain values, for example family and friends, material goods, education, other?

How is change possible ?

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