Example Analysis: ‘A Christmas Carol’

Analysis

Candidates are expected to analyse writers’ methods for top marks. This means that they should look at small details and explore the different meanings created by each of them in isolation and in synthesis (when you put them together to make more meanings). There is an exmaple below of analysis of Dickens’ methods. Consider why it might be considered analysis and why it might be considered exploratory.

In this extract Dickens demonstrates a negative view of the division between the rich and poor in Victorian society.

  The rich are metaphorically described by the spirit as the ‘insect upon the leaf’. By dehumanising the rich through this language, Dickens demonstrates his disdain for them. Dickens creates the representation that the rich are actually powerless and insignificant in the world; and thus the representation of their arrogance and egotism are implied. The juxtaposition of the metaphorical rich ‘insect’ and their ‘poor brothers’  both highlights the differences between rich and poor, and the similarities. By referring to the poor as the insect’s ‘brothers’ we see that Dickens feels that rich and poor are the same.  However, it is also evident that the poor are represented in a far more positive light; they are not dehumanised, but rather the reader is reminded of their place in the human family as a whole. 

  Furthermore, the juxtaposition of the rich ‘upon the leaf’ and the poor ‘ in the dust’ emphasises the power, position and abundance available to the rich and the unfairness of the poverty and powerlessness of the poor.  Dickens reflects the society in which he lived and the unfairness of it, perhaps due to his own family’s experiences of debtors’ prison and his years working in a blacking factory as a child. Indeed, Dickens often represents wealth as corrupting, such as the influence of Miss Havisham on Pip in Great Expectations.

  Futhermore, from the outset of ‘A Christmas Carol’ Dickens represents Scrooge, his allegorical representation of the Victorian rich, as evil. His physical description of ‘eyes red…thin lips blue’ depict him as diabolic and almost dead. While his actions ‘squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping’ suggest his greed, selfishness and oppressive nature. The long list of present participle verbs emphasises the extreme and on-going nature of this behaviour. Thus, depicting Scrooge as a true ‘sinner’ and, therefore, implying the same thing about the rich Victorians he is representative of in this allegory. 

  Clearly, Dickens feels that in his society the rich are immoral and treat the poor incredibly unfairly.