Dickens’s A Christmas Carol: Poverty, Money and Miserliness

Lesson rationale

In this activity, students will consider the economic and political context that informs Charles Dickens’s famous novella, A Christmas Carol. Dickens’s message to his readership is clear: acknowledge the plight of the poor; attend to their needs; or ignore them at your peril. The 19th century was a time of immense poverty and great philanthropy: in this activity, students will evaluate the impact of economic and social policy and consider how Dickens responded to ‘The Condition of England’ question.

Key questions in this lesson:

  • How were the poor represented during the first half of the 19th century?
  • What changes occurred during the second half of the 19th century that affected how the poor were perceived and treated?
  • Where does Dickens stand in relation to ‘The Condition of England’ question?
  • What action does Dickens propose to alleviate the plight of the poor?