A Christmas Carol: Practise Question


The following extract is taken from stave one of A Christmas Carol. This is the point where Scrooge is first introduced.

‘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. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled 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. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.’

Starting with the extract, explore how Dickens uses language to characterise Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.

Write about:

  • How Scrooge is characterised in the extract
  • How Scrooge is characterised in the novel as a whole

Example Paragraph

In stave one, Dickens uses the simile ‘As hard and sharp as flint’ to describe Scrooge. This simile immediately gives the impression that Scrooge is an unapproachable character because we associate the words with something negative that could hurt you. The use of the adjectives ‘hard’ and ‘sharp’ indicate that Scrooge is unwelcoming and friendly. Here, Dickens reflects the personality of many upper-class Victorian gentlemen. They were wealthy, powerful and successful, but often felt they were above others and didn’t need to be nice. This instils an air of hostility surrounding Scrooge, making him unlikeable to the reader.