Allusion in A Christmas Carol

Allusion Examples in A Christmas Carol:

Stave One 1

"If we were not perfectly convinced..."   (Stave One)

Dickens alludes to Shakespeare’s famous play Hamlet in order to set the reader up for a ghost story of redemption—one that contrasts the seemingly cheerful title of A Christmas Carol. Shakespeare takes great pains in the opening scene of Hamlet to be sure his audience is "perfectly convinced" that Hamlet’s father is dead by making the ghost look exactly like Hamlet's dead father. Since Dickens takes the time to express that he also wants his readers to be convinced of Marley’s death, is an important means of foreshadowing his eventual return from the grave.

"unlike the celebrated herd in the poem..."   (Stave Two)

The poem referred to here is William Wordsworth's "Written in March," in which he describes the passing of winter and the arrival of spring. He also depicts a herd of cattle all feeding together in peaceful unison, which is why Dickens states that the children are the opposite of the herd, but just as uproarious as forty cows could be.

"A golden one..."   (Stave Two)

While she literally is referring to Scrooge's pursuit of gold, this statement also serves as a biblical allusion. When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments, he saw that his fellows were worshipping a golden calf—a false idol. The girl's calling Scrooge's idol "a golden one" speaks to his pursuit of wealth as being as equally sinful as the behavior of the Hebrews.

"Laocoön..."   (Stave Five)

According to Greek mythology, Laocoön was a Trojan priest of the god Apollo who, along with his two sons, was attacked by giant serpents sent from the gods. Here, Dickens alludes to a sculpture depicting the death of Laocoön and his sons by three Rhodes sculptors: Hagesander, Athenodoros, and Polydorus. Scrooge compares himself to Laocoön because while he is trying to get dressed in haste, he becomes entangled in his clothing in a way that resembles Laocoön's being entangled by serpents in the famous statue.