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Foreshadowing in A Christmas Carol

Foreshadowing Examples in A Christmas Carol:

Stave One

🔒 6

"I don't know that.”..."   (Stave One)

The reference to “knowing” here foreshadows Scrooge’s contact with the spirits. Although Scrooge does not know at this moment, he “might” know at a later point—that is, he does possess the capacity to learn.

"It was with great astonishment, and with a strange, inexplicable dread, that as he looked, he saw this bell begin to swing..."   (Stave One)

The tolling of bells has supernatural significance throughout this tale. Recall how the bell in the clocktower was depicted as watching Scrooge. Bells often chime to signal the arrival of something or someone. This paragraph creates a sense of tension, of anticipation, that something unusual is going to happen to Scrooge.

"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.

"whose gruff old bell was always peeping slily down at Scrooge out of a Gothic window in the wall..."   (Stave One)

Since bells are nonliving things, this is an example of personification. Dickens has the bell "peep," or look, down at Scrooge while it rings out when the clock strikes each new hour. The bell's watching Scrooge, and its connection to the passing of time, suggests that Scrooge's time may be running out, foreshadowing future events.

"when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely..."   (Stave One)

While Scrooge points out the problems of this time of year, his nephew focuses on holiday's ability to make others more generous. His description of this feeling calls to mind the festive "Christmas spirit." By having the nephew state this so definitively, Dickens foreshadows the coming spirits that will show Scrooge the meaning of the holiday. However, Scrooge's attitude is so against the season that a certain sense of mystery is evoked in exactly how Scrooge will be able to change.

"the only time I know of..."   (Stave One)

This description of Christmas foreshadows what is going to happen to Scrooge because of the mystique of this holy day. Many people dread the approach of the winter holidays because it means cold weather, crowded stores, heavy traffic, choosing presents, spending money, pretending to be friendly and cheerful, visiting boring relatives, and realizing, as Scrooge says, that we are a year older and haven't really accomplished much in that year―but then mysteriously the spirit of the holidays takes hold of us, and we find ourselves feeling good will towards others as they, surprisingly, display good will towards us. Even the Scrooges of the world cannot help but feel moved by what Scrooge's nephew accurately describes as "the only time...of the year when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys." The three ghosts who visit Scrooge during the night might be intended to represent the transforming spirit of this festive mood.

"but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased...."   (Stave Three)

The children, clinging to the Ghost of Christmas Present, represent two concepts that man must be cautioned against. Though both are dangerous, Scrooge’s personal downfall will come from ignorance rather than want since he already has all the material things he desires. It is heartening, however, that the doom foretold on the boy’s forehead can be erased, foreshadowing Scrooge’s choice between change and stasis.

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