Why Charles Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol"
Why Charles Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol" The first edition of A Christmas Carol. The illustration on the left is of Mr. Fezziwig’s ball, one of Scrooge’s good memories. (Wikimedia Commons)
Why Charles Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol"
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A Christmas Carol is more than a timeless Christmas story - its author hoped that its lessons would be remembered all through the year.

The publication of A Christmas Carol in 1843 ensured that Charles Dickens’ name would forever be linked with Christmas. In some ways, it’s a very Victorian story of urban circumstances: extremes of wealth and poverty, industry and inability. But it also helped change Victorian society, writes historian Catherine Golden for the National Postal Museum blog. And that’s why Dickens wrote it.

Aside from boosting people’s awareness of the plight of the poor in Victorian England, though, Dickens also had a more immediate need: cash. He’d spent too much on his 1842 American tour, Golden writes, and he needed to support his large family. “Thinking creatively, he wrote himself out of his dilemma,” she reports.

The already well-known writer’s solution worked, to a degree. He sold out the first print run in a week, all 6,000 copies of it. By the end of the next year, writes Brandon Ambrosino for Vox, the book had sold more than 15,000 copies. But due to the book’s lavish bindings and the relatively low price he chose to sell it for, writes Michael Varese for The Guardian, much of that money didn’t make it back to the author, who was hoping to make at least $1000 from the book. “What a wonderful thing it is that such a great success should occasion me such intolerable anxiety and disappointment!” he wrote.

The book did have the cultural impact Dickens was hoping for, though. The writer came from a poor family and is remembered as a friend to the poor throughout his life. In the fall of that year, writes Ambrosino, the author had visited a Samuel Starey’s Field Land Ragged School, which taught poor children. “Dickens easily empathized with such children living in poverty, coming, as he did, from a poor childhood himself - a fact that set him apart from many other English authors,” writes Ambrosino.

“Even if economics motivated Dickens to write A Christmas Carol, his story stimulated charity,” writes Golden. Characters like Bob Cratchitt’s family, Scrooge’s lost love and of course Scrooge himself paint a vivid picture of a time and place where need was everywhere, especially in London. And Scrooge’s redemption arc that anchors the story is an important voice to potential middle-class givers, writes Ambrosino. “Though he doesn’t give away any of his money [at the beginning of the story], and though he feels no sympathy for those less fortunate than he, Scrooge, as Dickens makes clear, is no criminal. He works hard for his money, day in and day out.” In the end, Scrooge becomes a sympathetic character. And his belief that prisons and workhouses were enough social aid for those in poverty - a common enough belief in Victorian times - is overwhelmed only when he realizes that the city needs something more: empathy, in the form of charity.

Like Scrooge at the end of the story, when he becomes “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew,” Dickens himself was a charitable man. He made a good living, writes Ambrosino, “and he used his wealth and influence to help those less fortunate.”

Dickens may not have gotten rich off of the publication of A Christmas Carol, but he did make the world a little richer.

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/teen/why-charles-dickens-wrote-christmas-carol/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What makes "A Christmas Carol" timeless?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (23)
  • SarahH-wik
    12/13/2018 - 04:16 p.m.

    A Christmas Carol is timeless because it can be enjoyed by all generations. Many lessons can be learned from "The Christmas Carol" and you don't have to just read the book as a Christmas story, it can be appreciated all year long.

  • jamied-wik
    12/13/2018 - 04:16 p.m.

    “A Christmas Carol” is a timeless story because the theme showed by the book is showing a lesson that everyone can remember,the spirit and joy of Christmas.

    The book is good,especially at the end when Scrooge learns the spirit of Christmas.I feel like the book could have been extended,because the book was good,and I want it to be better

  • BraedenP-wik
    12/13/2018 - 04:18 p.m.

    In my opinion, a Christmas carol is timeless because the book still has morals that anyone can understand. In the next 100 years, this book's moral will probably have the same impact as it did for us.

  • RyanC-wik
    12/13/2018 - 04:28 p.m.

    A Christmas Carol is timeless because it shows the true meaning of Christmas. It doesn't say we should give presents, we should give love and laughter and joy in your entire family. This book is also timeless because it could be shared by every generation in a family.

  • madisonl-wik
    12/13/2018 - 06:15 p.m.

    In a world where greed is such a bad problem, it's great to have a story about a man who learned so much about the spirit of Christmas to such a selfish world. No matter how old the book may be.

  • wess-wik
    12/13/2018 - 07:18 p.m.

    A Christmas Carol s a timeless classic because at the beginning of the story scrooge is a role model of what not to be and at the end he is a role model of what you should be. A Christmas Carol also teaches you lessons from what scrooge does,these lesson are things that everyone should have.

  • mikaylat-wik
    12/14/2018 - 03:19 p.m.

    what makes " A Christmas Carol" timeless is the type of message it sends, it shows you that you should enjoy life and not be negative especially around the best time of the year.

  • ameliae-wik
    12/15/2018 - 03:25 p.m.

    The "Christmas Carol" is known as a timeless classic because the lessons and virtues it teaches aren't made just for Christmas or any specific holiday, they are relevant anytime and all year long. Anyone, no matter rich or poor, young or old, can learn from the lessons the book presents. This is why the book is still appreciated and reserved to this day.

  • EmekaO-wik
    12/15/2018 - 06:00 p.m.

    In my opinion I think the book is timeless because most problems in the story are things people in our present day they can relate to. Another reason is that even though it is a Christmas story , anybody can read it at any time of the year. This is why the selection " A Christmas Carol" is timeless.

  • GraceF-wik
    12/18/2018 - 05:18 p.m.

    A Christmas Carol is timeless because it teaches a lesson, a lesson that can be used all year, and that you shouldn't be greedy, shouldn't push people away, and don't be such a Scrooge!

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