A Christmas Carol Summary

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

This classic tale by Charles Dickens follows Ebenezer Scrooge, the quintessential miser, who mistreats those around him in order to save every penny that he can. It begins with Scrooge in his office where his overworked clerk, Bob Cratchit, sits by a meager fire. A man comes knocking asking for donations for the poor. Scrooge scoffs, telling him that he already supports the jails and shelters, and turns the man away. Then Scrooge's nephew Fred jovially bounds inside to invite Scrooge to Christmas dinner. Scrooge gives his most famous line "Bah. Humbug," before turning away his nephew. Then he acknowledges that Bob probably expects to have a day off for Christmas to which Bob concedes before hastily leaving.

At home Scrooge first notices something strange when his door knocker appears to resemble his dead partner, Jacob Marley. Later, in his room the dead man appears, covered in chains. Initially, Scrooge couldn't believe the ghost of Jacob Marley had somehow appeared in his bedroom, but Jacob came to bring him a message. Jacob tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts, who will hopefully keep Scrooge from the same fate that Jacob faced.

The first visitor was the Ghost of Christmas Past. He showed Scrooge memories from his past where he was alone of Christmas, rejected by his father. Then he saw a generous boss for whom he worked who threw a big party for his employees on Christmas. After that Scrooge revisited a time when he told the girl he liked that they weren't able to be together. The memories became so upsetting that Scrooge asked the Spirit if they could please leave.

The Ghost of Christmas Present came next. They visited the house of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge's clerk. Scrooge saw the small meal that they shared and noticed that Tiny Tim walked with a crutch. Despite having so little, they seemed happy. They even thanked Scrooge although Mrs. Cratchit did it begrudgingly for what little they had. Next, Scrooge saw his nephew Fred who was happily hosting a party of people. They played games, one of which featured Scrooge as the object Fred was thinking of people. Fred's guests laughed at how Fred continued to show Scrooge kindness without ever receiving any in return. Before leaving this giant Spirit, Scrooge noticed two small children beneath its robes whom the Ghost said were Want and Ignorance. Scrooge realized that they needed people to help provide resources for them.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come appeared next, but it never spoke a word. Scrooge overheard some men talking about a man who had died, but no one would be attending his funeral. Then he saw some people selling possessions of the dead man even the clothes off his dead body and laughing about it. Next, he came upon the dead man himself lying under a sheet, but he didn't want to see who it was. Scrooge wanted to see someone who was moved by the man's death. The Ghost showed him some people who seemed relieved that they would no longer be beholden to the dead man for money that they owed. Then he once again saw Bob Cratchit's family who seemed to be struggling. Finally, the Spirit led Scrooge to the churchyard where Scrooge saw his tombstone. He realized he was the dead man beneath the sheet.

In his bedroom Scrooge celebrates that he is still alive. He finds out that it is Christmas Day and orders that a turkey be delivered to Bob Cratchit's house. Running into the man who had asked him for a donation the day before, Scrooge whispers to him an amount that he would like to contribute, pleasantly surprisingly the man. Scrooge continues on to his nephew's house where he joins the party for food and fun.

The next day at work Scrooge pretends to be angry at Bob Cratchit for his tardiness then gives him a raise. He promises to help out with his family and becomes like a second father to Tiny Tim. The people in town often marvel at the change that overcame Ebenezer Scrooge to turn him into such a generous person overnight.

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