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Dickens: A Christmas Carol

4. Scrooge

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the character of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, focusing in particular on: (i) the parliamentary report that had revealed to Dickens just how bad the issue of child poverty had become in Britain by the mid-19th century; (ii) Dickens' particular concern with children not being given a proper education; (iii) Scrooge's lack of empathy at the beginning of the novel, his desire that the poor be placed in "workhouses" or "prisons" – or should simply die; (iv) the meaning of Scrooge's name ("Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change"); (v) the extent to which Scrooge is a (comic?) exaggeration at the beginning of the novel; (vi) the importance of John Leech's illustrations of Scrooge that accompanied the first edition of the novel in shaping how we see him; (vii) the evolution of Scrooge's character as we move through the novel; (viii) Scrooge's own ignorance (innocence? naivety?): the fact he is the last person to realise that the grave that everyone is talking about is his own; (ix) the importance of the silence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, compared to the loquaciousness of the previous three ghosts.


In this course, Professor John Mullan (University College, London) explores Charles Dickens' 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol. In the first module, we think about the idea storytelling in the novel, focusing in particular on the 'character' of the narrator and the idea that A Christmas Carol was a designed as a novel to be read in a single sitting. After that, in the second module, we think about ghosts in A Christmas Carol and in Victorian literature and society more generally, before turning in the third module to the use of comedy in the novel. In the fourth module, we focus on the character of Ebenezer Scrooge himself, before turning in the fifth and final module to consider the idea of 'fancy' in the novel.


Professor John Mullan holds the Lord Northcliffe Chair of Modern English Literature at University College, London. He is a specialist in eighteenth-century literature, currently writing the 1709-1784 volume of the Oxford English Literary History. Most recently he is the author of How Novels Work (2006), Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature (2008) and What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved (2012). A broadcaster and journalist as well as an academic, he writes a weekly column on contemporary fiction for the Guardian.

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Cite this Lecture

APA style

Mullan, J. (2021, March 08). Dickens: A Christmas Carol - Scrooge [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Mullan, J. "Dickens: A Christmas Carol – Scrooge." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 08 Mar 2021,