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Dickens: A Christmas Carol

8. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

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About this Lecture


In this module, we provide a close reading of the scene in which Scrooge contemplates his own grave, focusing particular on: (i) the influence of the image of Scrooge at his own grave, an image that has been picked up by almost all film and television adaptations of the novel; (ii) the way in which Scrooge orients himself from the present to the future, predicting the future and commenting on what is going to happen (“Something tells me that our parting moment is at hand”); (iii) the extent to which our own expectations/knowledge of what will happen later in the narrative puts us in the same frame of mind as Scrooge himself; (iv) the strangeness of Scrooge’s reaction – why does he react with such horror to something that is after all an inevitable part of life?; (v) the echoes/reversals of earlier scenes in the novel; (vi) the importance of hands in the novel, particularly ghostly ones; and (vii) the way in which the variation in grammatical tenses in Scrooge’s speech reflects his stated desire to “live in the Past, the Present, and the Future”.


In this course, Dr Christopher Pittard (University of Portsmouth) explores Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella, ‘A Christmas Carol’. In the first module, we think about the background to ‘A Christmas Carol’, the circumstances that led Dickens to write it, and the political issues to which Dickens is responding. In the second module, we provide a close reading of the opening two paragraphs of the novel, before turning in the third module to think about the genre of the ghost story. In the fourth module, we think about the politics of A Christmas Carol, before turning in the fifth module to think about the interplay between the text of ‘A Christmas Carol’ and the illustrations by John Leech that accompanied the 1843 first edition of the novel. In the sixth, seventh and eight module, we provide close readings of three short sections of the novels – one for each of the spirits of Christmas – before turning in the ninth and final module to think about how the novel ends.


Dr Christopher Pittard joined the University of Portsmouth in 2009, having held previous teaching positions at Newcastle University and the University of Exeter. His main research focus is on the popular culture of the nineteenth century, especially the emergence of popular genres in the Victorian fin de siecle and detective fiction in particular. His monograph, Purity and Contamination in Late Victorian Detective Fiction, considers how such fictions (and the periodicals in which they appeared) engaged with ideas of material and social purity, ranging from Sherlock Holmes cleaning the face of criminality in “The Man with the Twisted Lip” to the moral policing carried out by the Social Purity movements and late Victorian antivivisection campaigns. His publications in this area include discussions of Arthur Conan Doyle, Arthur Morrison, Fergus Hume, and of the Strand Magazine more widely.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Pittard, C. (2020, December 02). Dickens: A Christmas Carol - The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Pittard, C. "Dickens: A Christmas Carol – The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 02 Dec 2020,