English KS2: A Christmas Carol. 1: Marley's ghost

1: Marley's ghost - with on-screen text

Episode synopsis

It is Christmas Eve and seven years since Ebenezer Scrooge's business partner Jacob Marley died. It is cold, biting weather and Scrooge is in his 'counting-house' with his eye on his clerk, Bob Cratchit.

Scrooge's nephew - Fred - enters and invites his uncle to Christmas dinner the following day, as he does each year. Scrooge declines the invitation and, in doing so, attacks the whole festivity of the time of year. Fred leaves, determined to keep his 'Christmas humour'.

Two gentlemen enter raising money for homeless people at Christmas time and enquire what they can put Scrooge 'down for'? He rebuffs them with the suggestion that those unable to provide for themselves should be housed in prisons or workhouses - both of which he has already contributed to through payment of taxes.

The bell strikes and it is time to 'shut up shop'. Scrooge reluctantly agrees that Cratchit may have Christmas Day off, then makes his way home to his dark and dingy chambers. When he arrives at his door he is shocked to see in the knocker the face of Jacob Marley - then passes hesitantly through his rooms searching for any other ghostly signs.

Scrooge assures himself that all is well, but just as he turns in for the night he hears a clanking sound down in the basement, then coming up the stairs. Scrooge tries to persuade himself it is all 'humbug' - until an apparition walks through the door. It is the ghost of Jacob Marley.

1: Marley's ghost - script to print / download
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Ideas for Teaching and Learning:

Listen to the episode and identify key moments where characters are introduced. Map a timeline of how they appear and discuss how important they are to understanding the character of Scrooge. Ask pupils why Dickens starts with the introduction of a character who is dead. Discuss how this sets the tone for the story and how it makes the reader/listener feel about what is in store.

Explore how Dickens describes the character of Scrooge throughout Episode 1. He makes comparisons to the seasons and weather ‘frost on his head’ and paints a picture of a lonely bitter character. Collect the vocabulary and check understanding of new words such as ‘sole friend’ and ‘morose’.

Character comparisons can be made using the word choices of Dickens. Pupils can listen to the descriptions of Fred and Scrooge identifying the vocabulary used exploring how Dickens creates a warm character and contrasting cold character. Consider how the two charitable visitors help to underline Scrooge’s mean-ness and lack of compassion for those less fortunate. Make comparisons to charities today and explore opinion. Do the pupils agree with Scrooge’s argument for not helping those less fortunate at Christmas time? How are Fred and the clerk, Bob Cratchit used to illustrate how wrong he is?

Create a debate around the importance of Christmas using Fred to represent for and Scrooge to represent against. Using the characters arguments set pupils with the task of presenting this argument and then planning questions to challenge. Pupils can compare with Christmas of today and consider if the arguments remain as relevant today.

Ask the children to decide how they think Dickens felt about Christmas and helping the poor. Can they identify his viewpoint as a writer at this time in 1843?

Explore how Dickens builds up the story to the moment Marley’s Ghost appears. Map a timeline of incidents that increase Scrooge’s fear to the point of Marley arriving. Ask pupils to consider what Scrooge sees, hears and feels as the ghost approaches through the building and explore using drama techniques such as freeze-framing.

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More from this series

Episode 2: Meeting with Marley
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Episode 3: The first of the three spirits
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Episode 4: Master Fezziwig
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