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Setting/Places In A Christmas Carol

Hi, I'm in year 11 and my teacher tasked us with producing an essay in response to the question 'What is the importance of setting/places in A Christmas Carol'
This was my response:

Dickens uses places and setting to highlight Scrooge's negative and unappealing personality and to present a message of social responsibility regardless of someone's position in society. He does this through contrasting Scrooge with those who have already understood the message and by showing that some people are defined by place whilst others are not.
The opening setting quickly establishes an unpleasant and loathly aspect of Scrooge's character but also present a chilly and glacial environment. This is displayed through the the phrase 'it was cold, bleak, biting weather' Here, through the use of adjectives, Dickens instantly presents an unwelcoming and hostile atmosphere, contrasting greatly with the traditional Christmas values and spirit. This can be seen through the use of the adjectives like 'cold, bleak, biting' which have connotations of being freezing, frigid and bitter, clearly depicting a sense of coldness which creates a rather dismal image of winter.
Alternatively, however, these three words also have a double meaning which immediately hint at Scrooge's unsympathetic and apathetic outlook on life. This is strikingly clear through the adjective 'biting' as it has harsh connotations of being vicious and cruel which insinuate Scrooge's feelings towards the time of year and is also a clear representation of his emotionless and merciless ways. Moreover, structurally, as this is one of the first things we discover about the surroundings and indeed Scrooge, Dickens instantly reveals a disagreeable element to Scrooge's character which instantly presents him as undesirable to the audience.
The weather is additionally presented as controlling when Dickens describes how 'the house fronts looked black enough, and the windows blacker, contrasting with the smooth white sheets of snow' Here, Dickens uses an example of sibilant alliteration through the repetition of the 's' sound which could have the effect of creating a gentle, hushed or whispering tone, which emphasises the calmness that enveloped the city at Christmas time. Dickens may he drawing the readers attention to the way in which this season creates a sharp change in mood and atmosphere in the city, temporarily creating a softer, calmer and more gentle place. Connecting onto this, the adjective 'white', which has connotations of innocence and purity, could suggest that Dickens may want to show the happy mood and spirit of the people who live in a place overcome with negativity during the festive period. He may have done this to demonstrate that our lives don't have to be determined by the places we live in and that we can make them better.
This sense of Christmas cheer is also seen through the metaphor description of the 'smooth white sheets of snow' The noun 'sheet' has connotations of warmth, comfort and care, because we put sheets on beds. Therefore, one interpretation is that this is a very positive, optimistic image. It is almost as if the city is being tucked into bed on Christmas Eve which implies that (for one night, at least) the world is a comfortable, warm and benevolent place. However, on the other hand, it also has more negative connotations of something thin and superficial; it is only the lightest, thinnest layer of covering and is only a superficial façade - the more unpleasant, sinister nature of the place is hinted at by the black soot and dirt underneath which again implies a sense of darkness.
The links to darkness within the text can also be seen between Scrooge's own dark traits and his nephew who acts as his foil due to the fact he 'heated himself.... walking in the fog and frost' The adjective 'heated' which connotes a sense of warmth and tranquillity insinuating Fred's calm nature, is sharply juxtaposed with his uncles nature who is seen to be 'solitary as an oyster' which has connotations of isolation, loneliness and punishment. However, 'heated' also has connotations of being fiery of angry suggesting that Fred disagrees with his unless attitude and, as a result, aims to dispel the 'fog and frost' his uncle has in his heart and mind; Fred aims to cure Scrooge's frozen heart and mind and, therefore, Dickens tries to show that the Christmas season is an image or symbol of the more long-lasting changes that need to be created in the city of London. If the Christmas spirit of generosity, charity and goodwill existed all year round, perhaps more long-term solutions to poverty and exploitation could be found. This is significant because the noun 'fog' could be a reference to the industrial revolution when pollution became a major issue and the fog killed many people due to the fact it consisted of a toxic mix of sulphur dioxide and combustion particles. This may be Dicken's foreshadowing Scrooge's eventual transformation, hinting that his cruel ways need to change if indeed society will change just as new discoveries of less polluting fuels have been found and changed the environment.
Scrooge's mean-spirited and heartless ways are further displayed through the fact that he treats Bob Crachit as his inferior, displayed through the fact that he forced him to work in a 'dismal little cell' The noun 'cell', which has connotations of being confined and incarcerated, draws attention to Scrooge's wicked ways. This makes the reader feel sympathetic towards Crachit as it is clear that the conditions he is forced to work in are unsuitable and inapposite which emphasise Scrooge's dark, cruel nature as he has regressed Crachit to such a lowly workplace. Furthermore, by using the noun 'cell' the reader is led to believe that Bob is trapped which, as a result, shows a large contrast in power. Linking onto this, a 'cell' is the smallest structural and functional unit of an organism and so also has connotations of being little or insufficient in size. Therefore, the fact that Dickens chooses to refer to Crachit's workspace as being a 'cell' could also link to the fact that Scrooge himself feels inadequate, inconsequential or inappreciable due to his ruthless manner. Dickens seems to do this to suggest that even those in positions of power should respect those who could be viewed as subordinate. This was particularly consequential as Dickens was determined to change the upper classes views on being poor, especially as he had experienced being poor himself when, aged 12, he was removed from school and sent to work at a boot-blacking factory when his father was imprisoned in Marshalsea debtors prison. Although his stay in the factory was comparatively short, the experience for Dickens was life-altering and would become a major influence on his work (as a writer and as an advocate) for the remainder of his life.
Dickens links to education can ultimately be seen when the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to visit his old school and describes how the school 'is not quite deserted' because 'a solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still' The adjective 'solitary' links back to the elderly Scrooge being described with the simile 'solitary as an oyster' which highlights Scrooge's distancing from society, locked in a shell and surrounded by a sea of misery. Structurally, the use of repetition here creates a link between the two scenes which suggests that the older Scrooge was affected by the places in which he grew up, such as school. Scrooge's 'neglect' by his 'friends' could explain his later solitary life, and goes some way to explain his exclusion from society. Dickens wanted his audience to remember the fragility and vulnerability of a child, and, by using this imagery, Dickens has humanised the inhumanly cold Scrooge. What Scrooge suffered as a child is a reflection of the suffering of children at the time: loneliness, abandonment, and neglect. The fact that we now pity Scrooge allows the opportunity for Dickens' Victorian audience to recognise aspects of Scrooge within themselves, and forgive themselves on the path to redemption.
Overall, Dickens uses setting and places to suggest that your life can be determined by the type of place you were brought up in but also manages to evoke a sense of sympathy for those who are viewed as being resented by others. The novella aims to break the negative cycle for Scrooge (and for its readers) by revealing the spirit of charity, generosity and goodwill.

I've been getting 30/30 for the vast majority of my essay's but thought it would be wise to get some feedback. Are there any further points I need to change/develop?

Many thanks!
Reply 1
This is so good can you give me some tips on how to write like this and what structure you use? My exam for this paper is 22nd of May and I haven’t been able to do a lot of revision for it due to other commitments. What are the best ways to get use to writing like this before my exam which is in a few weeks?

Thank you
Original post by Janay.x
This is so good can you give me some tips on how to write like this and what structure you use? My exam for this paper is 22nd of May and I haven’t been able to do a lot of revision for it due to other commitments. What are the best ways to get use to writing like this before my exam which is in a few weeks?

Thank you

Easily 30/30
Highest I have achieved was 25/30 on comparing poetry, but it took me so long on the paper that I couldn't answer the last 2 questions properly

Question: compare effects of war in Bayonett charge with another poem


From the start of Bayonet Charge the reader is placed directly into the battlefield with no knowledge of the character or environment. This captures the fear and confusion of a battlefield, as questions are raised quickly with very fast paced stanzas, often using hyphens and enjambment to reflect the soldier's motion of charge and 'going over' the trenches. There is also repitition of 'raw'. As a harsh sounding word, it contributes to an unpleasant tone, linked to the soldier's poor physical conditions.

Hughes dehumanises the soldier which shocks the reader seeing the lack of concern for the soldier's mental well-bein. This is first shown in the line 'sweating like molten iron from the centre of his chest'. The poet alludes to the disposable nature of conscription and modern war, or alternatively foreshadowing the soldier's death and fears of being shot or stabbed with a bayonet through the centre of his chest. In comparison, Kamikaze chooses to humanise the pilot in his view described in the line 'fishing boats strung out like bunting'. Where bayonet charge wants the reader to feel shock from the battlefield, Kamikaze focusses on gathering sympathy for the pilot. This difference indicates Will Hughes wants the reader to think about war on a global scale, hence not referring to the soldier as an indiviual or person. Kamikaze however wants the reader to consider the societal view on war, but does not go into detail about conditions or the depravity of fighting, perhaps acknowledging the poet's own inability to fully capture the impact of war on one's body and mind.

Also, Kamikaze considers the effects of war on a participant's family or loved ones. For example, the pressures, shown in the line 'sometimes he wondered which has been the better way to die'. The poet alludes to the pilot being outcast by his family, but it is unclear on if they do so out of fear of being ostricised by societ or truly resent his action, yet the father has clear doubts and wishes to have a relationship with their son again. Alternatively, the writer wants to compare the stresses of fighting to being labelled a coward by desertion, as they become trapped and unable to come out of war without having their life ruined. On the other hand, Bayonet Charge compares death in war to physical conditions. The line 'hugged a rifle numb as a smashed arm' reflects a hoplessness on the battlefield and is relative to torture.

Both poems are critical of expectation of the soldiers, with the line in Bayonet Charge 'the patriotic tear' or in Kamikaze with 'which has been the better way to die'. This shows war as being presented as glorified.


All in all I was very happy with this answer and comparing poems, but am stuck in how to apply this to paper one with analysing Christmas Carol and Macbeth. I am worried that asking about a specific character because I generally struggle to pick out what points should be made, and I included no contextual analysis in my answer above but I need to be able to tie that in with characters and whichever traits I am meant to be commenting on.

I think that you could easily get 30/30 and could do with shortening your answer down and just sticking to your points on the opening + weather, context and Scrooge's past, I think that the parts on Bob Cratchitt and comments on Christmas could of been taken out and you'd still get 30/30
(edited 5 years ago)
what was part a of this question?
Reply 6
Original post by amina_x_9
what was part a of this question?

there is no part a of this question since that is part of paper 2 not paper one
Original post by Janay.x
This is so good can you give me some tips on how to write like this and what structure you use? My exam for this paper is 22nd of May and I haven’t been able to do a lot of revision for it due to other commitments. What are the best ways to get use to writing like this before my exam which is in a few weeks?

Thank you

Start off with a solid introduction, make sure to state points about characters, waffle n that and it really helps, make sure to get grade 9 gcse. Its always better to overanalyze also make sure u talk about techniques

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