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Dickens: A Christmas Carol

10. Stave 3 – The Cratchits

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In this module, we read the first part of Stave Three as Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Present and is taken to see Christmas at the Cratchits’. In particular, we focus in: (i) the fact that Scrooge is constantly waking up and falling asleep again, and the connection between ghosts and dreams; (ii) the comic exaggeration of Dickens’ writing, e.g. Scrooge’s “a prodigiously tough snore”; (iii) the more positive atmosphere surrounding the meeting of the second ghost compared to the first; (iv) Dickens’ description of the (phantasmic) Christmas splendour in Scrooge’s house (“Holly, mistletoe, red berries, ivy, turkeys, geese…”); (v) the atmosphere on the streets of London; (vi) the Cratchits’ house, and the figures of Mr and Mrs Cratchit and their children, including Tiny Tim; and (vii) the Cratchits’ fabulous Christmas dinner (“even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried Hurrah!”)


In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In the first module, we introduce the novel by looking at the first two paragraphs of the story, including its famous opening line (“Marley was dead; to begin with”) and the reader’s first impression of the character of Scrooge (“Scrooge's name was good on ‘Change”). In the second and third modules, we go through some of the literary, cultural and historical context for the novel, including Dickens’ life and career up to 1843, the impact of the Industrial Revolution on British society and culture, the ‘invention’ of the ‘traditional, family Christmas’ in this period, and Dickens’ preoccupation with capitalism, poverty and children. In the following twelve modules, we read through the novel stave by stave: the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh modules cover Stave One; the eighth and ninth cover Stave Two; the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth cover Stave Three; the thirteen and fourteenth cover Stave Four; and the fifteenth covers Stave Five.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

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APA style

McRae, J. (2020, March 24). Dickens: A Christmas Carol - Stave 3 – The Cratchits [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Dickens: A Christmas Carol – Stave 3 – The Cratchits." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 24 Mar 2020,