English KS2: A Christmas Carol. 5: The second of the three spirits

5: The second of the three spirits - with on-screen text

Episode synopsis

Scrooge wakes again in bed on the strike of 1, but no ghost appears. When he gets out of bed he notices a light coming under the door from the next room and goes towards it. He opens the door to find the room draped with holly, ivy and mistletoe; a heap of festive food including turkeys, hams, geese; and sitting on top of it all a jolly, green giant of a ghost. It is the Spirit of Christmas Present.

First the Ghost takes Scrooge through the streets of London, until they stand outside the window of a modest house in a poor area of the city. It is the home of the Cratchit family. There is hustle and bustle as the Cratchits prepare for Christmas dinner. Bob enters with Tiny Tim upon his shoulders and the Cratchits sit down to a scanty meal which is nevertheless a kind of feast to them.

The mood darkens though when Cratchit suggests they toast Mr Scrooge as the 'founder of the feast' and Mrs Cratchit replies that only on Christmas Day should such an 'odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man' as Scrooge be toasted. Scrooge asks the Ghost if Tiny Tim will recover and the Ghost replies '...if these shadows remain unaltered by the future, the child will die.'

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Ideas for Teaching and Learning:

Explore the themes Dickens writes about through Christmas Present. Listen to or reread the description of the ghost and in pairs encourage the pupils to talk about how he looks and behaves. Does he remind us of Father Christmas and why? Link to what was happening around the idea of Christmas at that time in Victorian households. How did they celebrate Christmas and had it always been celebrated in this way.

Compare this spirit to the last. How are they different and how does this affect Scrooge? In this part of the story he becomes happy at the thought of seeing a jolly scene. Consider if Scrooge is beginning to change in anyway and what the signs might be in this part of the story.

Reflect again on how Dickens likes to describe scenes with lots of detail and fuss. He paints the picture of the Cratchit family’s celebrations vividly. Encourage the pupils to identify what is good about their Christmas and what is poor about their Christmas. Ask the pupils to talk or write their own Christmas description using Dickens technique of adding as much detail as possible. Their aim is to help the reader gain a very clear picture of what Christmas is like in that household.

Tiny Tim remains a famous character from the book. Explore how Tiny Tim makes us, the reader/listener feel. How does Dickens help us to understand how Scrooge might feel by doing this? He doesn’t tell us clearly what Scrooge is feeling but infers it. Ask the pupils to identify in this part of the story the clues that tell us he is feeling regret and sadness over the Cratchit family and then discuss Mrs Cratchits response to the toast to him.

At this point in the story the reader/listener has a clear picture of the kind of person Scrooge has been. Revisit some of their thoughts and ideas from the first episode and ask the pupils to decide how they feel towards him now. Encourage them to explain their opinion using evidence from the story.

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More from this series

Episode 4: Master Fezziwig
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Episode 6: Scrooge's nephew
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Episode 7: The last of the spirits
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