A Christmas Carol
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The Life of Charles Dickens
The Origins of A Christmas Carol
On February 7, 1812, Charles John Huffman Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England.
He was the second oldest of 8 children. Two of his siblings died in infancy.
Charles’s dad worked in the Naval Pay Office and did journalism on the side.
His family had serious financial problems and had to move around a lot.
On February 9, 1824 (2 days after his 12th birthday) Charles started work at Warren’s Blackening Factory. A blackening factory is a place that makes black shoe polish. The factory was run-down and filled with rodents. He was paid six shillings a week to put labels on the bottles of shoe polish.
That same month his father was sentenced to the Marshalsea Prison for not paying a debt. His mother and all of his sisters and brothers moved into the prison cell with his father. Charles and his older sister, Fanny, worked and tried to raise money to get the family out of prison.
In May of 1824, a relative died and left the family an inheritance. Charles’s family was able to pay the debt and get out of prison.
Charles was able to return to school, but had to drop out again when he was 15 to help earn money for his family.
He got a job writing reports about the law courts in London.
In 1836, Charles started sending in stories he had written to magazines and newspapers. The stories were published under the name, "Boz."
On April 2, 1836 Charles married Catherine Hogarth. They had 10 children together, but one died as an infant.
In 1844, Charles wrote A Christmas Carol.
On June 8, 1870, at age 58, Charles suffered a stroke and died the next day. He was buried at the Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey.
Fun Facts About Charles Dickens
1. Charles Dickens has been dead for over 200 years and is still just a popular today as he was then.
2. He named some of his children after his favorite writers. He would also give his children pet names after characters from his books.
3. Charles Dickens was fascinated by the paranormal and belonged to the famous London Ghost Club.
4. He also practiced hypnotism. He used hypnotism to help his wife’s headaches and he enjoyed using it on the public. However, Charles refused to ever be hypnotized himself.
5. Charles Dickens is thought to have suffered from epilepsy. Several of the characters in his stories also suffered epileptic seizures or "fits."
6. On June 9, 1865, Dickens was traveling on a train that derailed. He helped to rescue the injured and dying passengers.
Dickens' Writing Style
1. Introductions: He would use a strong introduction sentence that would grab the reader’s attention. "Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that." – A Christmas Carol
2. Conclusions: He would use cliff hangers at the end of each chapter to keep the reader hanging on and wanting more. "Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley, and lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him." – A Christmas Carol
3. Vivid Descriptions: He believed stories came alive through its descriptions. He would describe his characters and scenes using all of the sensory images (touch, sight, smell, hear, feel). "The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin." – A Christmas Carol
4. Strong Characters: He created characters that were so strong and realistic they have become part of our culture. One such character is Ebenezer Scrooge (from A Christmas Carol) and his famous saying, "Bah, humbug."
5. Dialogue: He used action and dialogue to pull the reader into his story. "A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!" cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.
"Bah!" said Scrooge, "Humbug!" – A Christmas Carol
6. Theme: He wrote about social injustice and the wrongs he saw in the world. He wanted his writing to have a purpose and sway the public towards his opinion on social issues of the day. "Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys." – A Christmas Carol
7. Life Experience: He wrote about the experiences from his own life. He wanted to transform his own personal suffering growing up into a way of helping others. "… it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir." – A Christmas Carol
The Victorian Workhouse
Horrible Histories--Christmas in Prison
Diary of a Victorian Child Worker
Horrible Histories--Polite House
Horrible Histories--Victorian Traffic Report
Horrible Histories--Victorian Paramedics
Horrible Histories---Pet Shop
Elements of Drama
*The earliest plays were staged in ancient Greece over 2500 years ago
• Originally, plays were not read as books;
people experienced plays only by seeing them performed
• The word drama comes from a Greek word
that means “to do”
• The word theater comes from a Greek word
that means “place for seeing”
Characters are introduced
• A conflict develops and becomes more complicated
• Tension reaches a climax, which becomes a turning point in the action
• A resolution changes the situation and characters in some way
• The elements work together to communicate a theme--and idea about experience
Drama – major genre of literature; performed on stage
Play – one drama; performed by life actors; classified by the view of life they present and their style:
a. Comedy – Characters and situations are funny; endings are happy
Script – the written form of a play, TV show, film or radio show
Plot – action of the play, grows from conflict
Scene – pieces of the action; usually changes as the setting changes
Act – grouping of scenes according to the plot
Cast of characters – list of all the characters or players at the beginning of the script
Dialogue – lines of conversation spoken by characters
Stage directions – instructions for actors and stage crew (in italics)
Theme – a message communicated by the play
• Aside – a short speech that is not meant to be heard by other characters on stage.
• Monologue – a long speech spoken by one character on stage to another.
• Soliloquy – a long speech spoken by a character to himself, herself or the audience.
Part of a Play--• Cast of Characters
• Scenes (in italics)
• Stage directions
How To Read a Drama
2. Read stage directions – Stage directions appear at the beginning of each scene. The opening stage directions of a script always describe the setting. Each scene also begins with a few words telling the time and place of the action.
3. Read the dialogue and stage directions – Dialogue ad stage directions show how the story develops, revealing who is involved, where they are, and what happens
4. Keep track of plot development – The plot is a series of actions built around a conflict, usually between characters. Eventually, the plot reaches a climax, after which the action turns and the conflict is resolved. After each scene, ask yourself how the characters’ situation s have changed.
5. Look for themes – Think about you response to the play as a whole. How have the characters changed? What does their experience show you about life?