One of the most likable characters in A Christmas Carol is Scrooge and Marley's boss, Mr. Fezziwig.
Illustration by John Leech, courtesy Library of Congress

Download this file

  • Select Text Level:

    On December 19, 1843, the short novel A Christmas Carol, by English author Charles Dickens, was published for the first time. It has never been out of print since.
    A Christmas Carol introduced many familiar holiday characters, phrases, and themes. The characters’ names practically speak for themselves: the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, Scrooge’s hardworking assistant, Bob Cratchit, or Cratchit’s ill son, Tiny Tim. The dismissive phrase “bah, humbug!” is almost entirely associated with Scrooge, and, although the words had been occasionally used together for centuries, Dickens was the first to popularize the phrase “Merry Christmas”! Finally, the theme of A Christmas Carol is a moral one—the bitter Scrooge learns the value of generosity and kindness through the intervention of four ghosts (Scrooge's friend Jacob Marley, Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come).
    A Christmas Carol has been adapted hundreds of times in many, many media. Dickens himself was fond of performing readings of the book. Many theater companies stage annual holiday productions of A Christmas Carol. Dozens of movies and television shows have adapted the story. There are A Christmas Carol operas and ballets. Some adaptations poke fun at the original story, with the Scrooge character not learning his lesson. Some adaptations have attempted to continue the story, with the adventures of an adult Tiny Tim or Scrooge saving the world from zombies!
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    adapt Verb

    to adjust to new surroundings or a new situation.

    associate Verb

    to connect.

    ballet Noun

    type of formal dance with detailed, precise movements.

    bitter Adjective


    cruel Adjective

    having to do with causing pain and suffering in others.

    dismiss Verb

    to reject.

    familiar Adjective


    fond Adjective

    loving or having a liking for.

    generous Adjective

    having a giving or useful nature.

    holiday Noun

    period of celebration or honor.

    intervene Verb

    to mediate or modify the outcome of an event.

    introduce Verb

    to create, begin, or make an idea known for the first time.

    kindness Noun

    ability to act out of compassion, respect, and sympathy.

    miser Noun

    person who selfishly hoards money.

    moral Adjective

    right, just, or good.

    novel Noun

    fictional narrative or story.

    opera Noun

    comic or dramatic play in which all roles are sung.

    publish Verb

    to provide a written piece of work, such as a book or newspaper, for sale or distribution.

    theater Noun

    building or outdoor space for hosting performances.

    wealthy Adjective

    very rich.

    zombie Noun

    supernatural "living dead" creature.