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9. The Ending
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the ending of the novel, focusing in particular on: (i) the importance of the grammar and punctuation in the novel’s famous final sentence; (ii) the extent to which we are convinced by Scrooge’s conversion at the end of the novel – how long will it last?; (iii) the intended audience of the novel, and the reasons why Dickens might have chosen to be a little more unsubtle here; (iv) the impact of the pun on spirits (“He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle”) and the theme of abstinence (miserliness?) in the novel in general; and (v) Dickens’ strangely un-Christian depiction of Christian, which sits in tension with the final line of the novel (“God bless Us, Every One!”).
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
Pittard, C. (2020, December 02). Dickens: A Christmas Carol - The Ending [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/dickens-a-christmas-carol-pittard/the-ending-7a28976b-a91a-4a03-ace8-f67002446793
Pittard, C. "Dickens: A Christmas Carol – The Ending." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 02 Dec 2020, https://massolit.io/courses/dickens-a-christmas-carol-pittard/the-ending-7a28976b-a91a-4a03-ace8-f67002446793