Below you will find four outstanding thesis statements / paper topics for “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens can be used as essay starters. All four incorporate at least one of the themes found in “A Christmas Carol” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “A Christmas Carol” terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “A Christmas Carol” on our quotes page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.
Topic #1 Varieties of Disabilities
Compare and contrast societal views on “handicaps “or disabilities with the handicaps presented in the story. Tiny Tim has health problems. The Cratchits are very poor. According to society, they would be considered needy. However, the family is happy. In that sense, they are wealthier than Ebenezer Scrooge. Because Scrooge has more money and is healthy, he is viewed as successful. He is also very unhappy. Who has the greater handicap in Dickens’ story? Is it Tiny Tim or the Cratchit family in general? Or is the neediest character actually Scrooge?
Topic #2 The Ability to Change One’s Personality
Ebenezer Scrooge goes to bed a miser and wakes up with a generous heart. Discuss the possibility of such a phenomenon. Include information on personal reflection and self-examination. Could a close look at one’s life and direction really bring about such a drastic transformation in a short amount of time? How does the time period affect this viewpoint? Contrast the time period of the story with modern times. Cynicism is prevalent in many cultures when it comes to changing oneself. How does that affect the moral of the story?
Topic #3 Thinking Positively in the Face of Grave Uncertainty
Tiny Tim exhibits a positive and humble attitude in spite of his physical affliction. He manages to bring joy to others in his family while he suffers through his illness. He does not get angry that his parents cannot afford the right doctors. He does not lash out at others to have companions in his misery. Explore the belief that a positive outlook improves one’s ability to overcome the symptoms of illness. How does that theory apply in the case of Tiny Tim?
Topic #4 The Value of Money
Ebenezer Scrooge and his late partner, Jacob Marley, are consumed with making and keeping their money. After Marley dies, he comes back to warn Scrooge of the folly of money and greed. When Scrooge is being shown his life by the Christmas ghosts, he sees how his decisions have shaped his life. He sees what his life will become if he does not change his lifestyle. His greed over money made him who he is. Money is painted as one of the evils of life. How does Scrooge’s attitude about money become what it is? How have his choices and decisions affected his life? Are these choices and decisions to blame, or is money the culprit?
In A Christmas Carol, an allegory of spiritual values versus material ones, Charles Dickens shows Scrooge having to learn the lesson of the spirit of Christmas, facing the reality of his own callous attitude to others, and reforming himself as a compassionate human being. The reader is shown his harshness in the office, where he will not allow Bob Cratchit enough coal to warm his work cubicle and begrudges his employee a day off for Christmas, even claiming that his clerk is exploiting him. In the scene from the past at Fezziwig’s warehouse, Scrooge becomes aware of the actions of a conscientious, caring employer and feels his first twinge of conscience. The author suggests an origin for Scrooge’s indifference to others as Scrooge is portrayed as a neglected child, the victim of a harsh father intent on denying him a trip home for the holidays and only reluctantly relenting.
The ghost of Marley teaches his former partner the lesson of materialism, as Marley is condemned to drag an enormous chain attached to cash boxes: “I wear the chain I forged in life,” the ghost explains. “I made it link by link.” Marley warns Scrooge that he is crafting a similar fate for himself and that the three spirits are coming to give him a chance to change. Marley is filled with regret for good deeds not done. This theme is repeated when the first spirit exposes Scrooge to phantoms wailing in agony, many of whom Scrooge recognizes. The phantoms suffer because they now see humans who need their help, but they are unable to do anything: It is too late; they have missed their opportunity.
The novel contains important social commentary. As the two gentlemen are collecting for the poor on Christmas Eve, Scrooge contemptuously asks, “Are there no prisons?” One of the gentlemen says that many of the poor, rather than go to the detested workhouses, cruel and inadequate residences for the destitute, would prefer to die. Scrooge replies that “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population,” a reference to Thomas Robert Malthus’ An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), a treatise predicting that population would soon outstrip food production and result in a “surplus population” for which society could not provide. Later, in response to Scrooge’s plea to allow Tiny Tim to live, the Ghost of Christmas Present throws Scrooge’s words back at him: “What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
Observing two ragged children clinging to the skirts of the Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge asks about them and is told, “They are Man’s. . . . This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want.” The spirit has a warning: “Beware them both, and all their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.” This warning suggests that those who do not share in the prosperity may in time prove dangerous to society. The revolution in France half a century earlier may have been on Dickens’ mind. An important idea that the author stresses is that humans are responsible for their own destiny, both as individuals and as a group. He is writing in the tradition of a religion that teaches that people will one day have to answer for their failure to fulfill their responsibility.