Use of form in A Christmas Carol

Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in the form of:

  • a novella
  • a ghost story

The tale is written as a novella. This is a short piece of fiction - longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel. Dickens published A Christmas Carol on 19th December 1843. It was traditional for ghost stories to be read at Christmas time, and this short novella form meant that the whole tale could be read aloud in one sitting.

When analysing form in A Christmas Carol you can refer to:
  • the type of text it is
  • the style of writing
  • the genre

Evidence and explanation of the form used

Ghost story

Dickens's novella features four ghosts in total: Jacob Marley and the three Ghosts of Christmas. He combines the tradition of reading ghost stories with a moral tale of redemption.

Dickens used the form to appeal to the spirit of Christmas and to share a story that was so popular that the first print run of 6000 copies sold out by Christmas Eve in 1843!


The short novella form means the story can be read aloud in a short space of time, making it the ideal Christmas entertainment.