A Christmas Carol - Planning your answer

It is always a good idea to plan your answer before you begin writing. Having a plan means you will leave space to make all the points you want to, rather than risk running out of ideas. A plan will mean you answer the question in a logical manner. You must also refer to the examiner's assessment objectives to ensure you have met the criteria.

Here is a plan you could use for your answer:

  1. Introduction - how is Scrooge presented?
  2. Point 1 - the way Scrooge is behaving.
  3. Point 2 - the way Scrooge talks.
  4. Point 3 - how this compares to Scrooge at the start of the novella.
  5. Conclusion - summarise your points.

Sample answers

Here are two sample answers that refer to Point 2 of the essay plan.

Sample answer 1

Scrooge is shown as being happy in this extract from the end of the novella. We know this because Dickens uses the word 'cried' instead of something negative like 'muttered' or 'grumbled'. This shows that Scrooge is excited. He says that he is 'as light as a feather' which suggests that he is feeling happy and weightless. He also cheers, saying 'Whoop!' and 'Hallo!' which shows how he is much more joyous than at the start of the story.

Feedback comments - good, but could be improved

  • This answer shows that the candidate understands the character and has some sense of how language is used to convey meaning. However, a clearer explanation of the literary techniques used would be useful. For example, showing how the similes are used in the extract.
  • The candidate identifies that the extract is from the end of the novella and briefly compares it to the presentation of Scrooge at the start. An improved answer would make more detailed comparisons, focusing on the actual language used in the text.
  • Correct spelling and punctuation is used. For a higher level, more sophisticated language and use of technical language is needed.

Sample answer 2

In this extract from the end of the novella, we see Scrooge as a reformed character. Where he is described as 'tight-fisted' and 'grasping' in Stave I, in this final section we see him as 'light as a feather'. The similes that Scrooge uses in his dialogue show how cheerful he is. They are clichéd ideas that carry a sense of his new carefree spirit. When we first met Scrooge his repeated expression was a gloomy 'Bah!' and a dismissive 'Humbug!' showing the reader that he was mean-spirited. Here, however, he is changed to a man who cheerfully cries 'Whoop!' and 'Hallo!' and even 'Merry Christmas!' The onomatopoeia of 'Whoop!' carries a sense of his joy and the repeated exclamation marks add to the presentation of a man caught up in a child-like joy.

Feedback comments - much improved!

  • The expression here is more sophisticated. Sentences are complex and ideas are confidently conveyed.
  • The candidate makes use of literary terminology and explores the effects of language on the reader.
  • Comparisons with earlier parts of the novella are integrated in the response.
  • Candidate refers to structure in mentioning 'Stave I' and could expand on this further.
  • Reference to historical context would make this an even better answer.

Read over the Assessment Objectives again. Then use the plan and everything you have learned in this revision section to write your own timed answer.