Passage: Pp. 70-4 in the Penguin edition of A Christmas Carol

[Note] 12, a little market-town . . . with the bridge, its church, and winding river. Johnson in "About 'A Christmas Carol'" (Dickensian 1931) identifies this description as referring to Strood, Rochester, and the river Medway, where Dickens spent part of his childhood. Johnson also noted that Dickens erased the word "castle" from the original manuscript, an apparent reference to Rochester Castle. (Michael Patrick Hearn, The Annotated Christmas Carol, page 88)

1. Why would Dickens have made that deletion?

2. Dickens attended Wellington House Academy, Hampstead Road, London, from ages 13 to 15;the description of Scrooge's school here matches that of Salem House in chapter five of David Copperfield (1850), and both mansions of dull red brick seem based on Wellington House. What attitudes towards schooling and childhood may one detect in this passage?

3. Dickens had very definite ideas about the necessity for "fancy" in childhood reading. What in The Arabian Nights and Robinson Crusoe seems to have particularly appealed to Dickens?

4. The story of Valentine and Orson, translated from French about 1565, is one of separation in childhood and reunion and restoration in adulthood. How is this pattern repeated in A Christmas Carol?

5. "The pannels shrunk, the windows cracked; fragments of plaster fell" (73) is a transitional passage designed to suggest what?

6. Dickens' elder sister (and oldest sibling) was Fanny; like her, Fred's mother (see Stave 4) was a gifted musician and singer. Her son, Henry Burnett (1839-1849) has been proposed as the original of Tiny Tim, for Dickens had visited his sister and her sickly son in Manchester in October, 1843 (another candidate for the original Tim is Dickens's younger brother, Fred, since the ms. uses that name). What may one adduce about Dickens' attitudes to his sister from this scene?


Victorian Web Overview Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol

Last modified May 21, 2003