Christmas Carol Seminar Questions

Socratic Seminar Topics for A Christmas Carol

1)   Ebenezer Scrooge is a character whose name has become eponymous with greed, selfishness, and misanthropy.  Why has this character become so iconic over the past century and a a half?  Why, in spite of his celebrated change of heart at the end of the book, do we remember or refer to only the pre-epiphany Scrooge?


2)   A Christmas Carol deals with poverty, wealth, and generosity; money, in all its social and personal contexts, is a key element of the story.  What does A Christmas Carol have to say about how poverty and wealth affect people psychologically and socially? 


3)   A Christmas Carol uses the Christmas holiday as a setting, but the holiday is secularized, with only minimal allusion to the Christian religion.  Why do you think Dickens avoids or minimizes the obvious religious references that suggest themselves, and how does this secular view of Christmas add to or detract from the author's message?


4)   Finally, the question of obligation: What message does Dickens intend his audience to feel or think about their obligations -- to the poor, to each other, to society as a whole?  Does Dickens's message apply only to the  England of his time, or can we learn from it today?  If so, what can we learn?


For each topic, your index card will contain an original idea for discussion, an open-ended Socratic question, and a textual reference with page number(s).