Literary Devices in a Christmas Carol

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Charles Dickens uses a wide variety of literary devices within his book titled A Christmas Carol. Dickens had to use certain literary devices to describe characters in a way that would appeal to the reader. Throughout A Christmas Carol, Dickens uses literary devices such a characterization, symbols, and nature.

Ebenezer Scrooge is a mean old grumpy man who despises Christmas and everything joyful. The story, The Christmas Carol, begins with Scrooge and his only employee, Bob Cratchit, in their counting house.

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Throughout the story Scrooge is visited by three ghosts; the Ghost of Christmas Present, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and finally the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The Ghost of Christmas Past shows Scrooge part of his childhood and adulthood ( The Ghost of Christmas Present brings Scrooge to Bob Cratchit’s house to see how their family celebrates Christmas, even with their disabled son, Tiny Tim ( The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come brings Scrooge to a business mans grave. Then the ghost tells Scrooge that this is him in the following years to come, if he doesn’t change his ways ( Scrooge then makes a change in his life not only for the better of himself, but for his friends.

As we can tell there are multiple different themes throughout A Christmas Carol. In my opinion the main theme is redemption. “Redemption is the idea of being saved from sin or evil” ( Throughout the story we can really see how Scrooge goes from being a grumpy old man who hates Christmas to this joyous man who loves everyone. The part of the story when I notice Scrooge become this completely new person is when the last ghost brings him to his own grave and Scrooge begs the ghost for a second chance. Everyone has the opportunity to change their ways, it is never too late.

Ebenezer Scrooge is a mean old grumpy man who does not care for anyone besides himself and his own money. Scrooge is the owner of a small London counting house. Tiny Tim is Bob Cratchit’s youngest son who is also disabled. Tiny Tim always tries to make the best out of the worst scenarios. Jacob Marley was Ebenezer Scrooge’s business partner prior to Bob Cratchit and Marley’s passing. Marley was cursed to walk the earth wrapped in heavy chains. Bob Cratchit is Ebenezer Scrooge’s sole employee. Bob Cratchit is a nice and humble man, despite the way his boss, Scrooge, treats him. (

Charles Dickens has a special way of using literary device throughout A Christmas Carol. “In literature, effective characterization of both round and flat characters is essential to enhance and support themes and plot development within the story” ( In any case, characterization is a crucial topic for the author to use throughout the story, it gives the reader information about the central characters and also gives each individual character a purpose. “Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster” (Dickens 59). This is a perfect example of Dickens describing Scrooge through using characterization.

Dickens uses symbolism just as well as he uses characterization throughout his story. In my opinion the most prominent symbol used in A Christmas Carol is Jacob Marley’s chains. These chains represent all the horrible things that Marley had done while he was alive. Dickens proves to us that what we do in this life effects how we live in the afterlife. Scrooge’s gravestone is another great example of symbolism. When the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge his gravestone, it represents what his life is going to look like in the following years if he does not change his life around.

As we can see, through A Christmas Carol, Dickens uses quite a bit of nature by referencing weather. “”No warmth could warm nor wintery weather chill him” (Dickens 3). This represents Scrooges behavior because he was just as bitter as the wintery weather. Also because of how heartless Scrooge had become he could never be affected by the cold chills of winter. Scrooges character is also described as dark and gloomy, yet again, another weather reference. This can be interpreted many ways but in this case Scrooge’s soul is dark and gloomy, he hates Christmas and everything happy and joyous.

I believe mostly everyone has either heard of Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, or has seen the movie. This was my first time reading this novel and I was very impressed on the amount of literary device Dickens uses throughout his book, even though he is one of the most well know authors in the world I was still stunned. Overall, we can come the realization that it is never too late for one to change. We do not have to wait for the new year to begin a new chapter in our life. When are you going to make a change in your life?

Works Cited:

  1. “Characters – Revision 6 – GCSE English Literature – BBC Bitesize.” BBC News, BBC,
  2. Karenkachra, /. “‘Characterization in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: a Reflection.’” Creative Writing @ Seneca, 24 Mar. 2015,
  3. “Characterization.” Power Point,
  4. Dickens, Charles, et al. A Christmas Carol: Charles Dickens. DK Pub., 1997.”
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Literary Devices in A Christmas Carol. (2021, Apr 05). Retrieved from