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English Literature   >   Dickens: A Christmas Carol


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Dickens: A Christmas Carol

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.


In this module, we introduce the novel by looking at the first two paragraphs of the story, focusing in particular on: (i) the fun Dickens’ has with his characters’ names – Ebenezer Scrooge, Mrs Fezziwig, Tiny Tim, etc.; (ii) the famous opening line of the novel (“Marley was dead; to begin with”); (iii) the comic bureaucracy of Marley’s funeral (“The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner”); (iv) our first impression of Scrooge as man whose name was “good”; and (v) the narrative persona and the relationship established with the reader. (“Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge…”).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2020, March 24). Dickens: A Christmas Carol - Introduction [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Dickens: A Christmas Carol – Introduction." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 24 Mar 2020,


Prof. John McRae

Prof. John McRae

Nottingham University