English KS2: A Christmas Carol. 6: Scrooge's nephew
6: Scrooge's nephew - with on-screen text
The Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge away from the Cratchits' home and presents him with a series of Christmas scenes: a mining family on a bleak moor; the keepers of a solitary lighthouse out at sea; the crew of a ship. In each case the circumstances of the individuals concerned are difficult; yet each hums 'a Christmas tune'.
The scene changes again and now Scrooge sees his nephew - Fred - at his Christmas party. Fred is in the process of relating to his guests his encounter with Scrooge that very morning, during which Scrooge described Christmas as 'humbug'. The essence of the scene is generosity, Christmas cheer and a refusal to censure Scrooge for his behaviour.
They journey on and 'in misery's every refuge, where vain man had not made fast the door and barred the Spirit out, he left his blessing.'
Finally Scrooge asks the Ghost about two children he has noticed sheltering in the folds of his robe. The Spirit says they are the children of mankind: 'This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased!'
The bell strikes twelve and the Ghost disappears, to be replaced by the ghoulish sight of the last of the three spirits 'coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him.'
Ideas for Teaching and Learning:
Discuss the three settings of the miner, the lighthouse keeper and the ship’s crew. Ask pupils to find the common themes of them all. Consider why the Ghost of Christmas Present wants Scrooge to see the happy scenes within hardship. Look for links in song and singing and discuss why Dickens might have thought this a symbol of happiness.
Review the scene of Fred’s home. Ask the pupils to think about how Scrooge felt listening and watching everyone laughing and teasing about him. Do they agree with Fred’s forgiveness of Scrooge and his reasons. Do they think Scrooge should be forgiven or does he deserve his loneliness?
Pose the question: why is the Ghost of Christmas Present dying? Encourage pupils to think beyond what is obvious and consider why his spirit life ends at midnight.
The boy and girl images are disturbing and make us feel uncomfortable as they do Scrooge. The symbols here of Ignorance and Want need some clarifying for pupils. These could be labelled, displayed and definitions agreed by using various sources, dictionaries, thesaurus, on line search engine. At this point the ghost uses Scrooge’s words to suggest the children should go to prison or a work house. Discuss with pupils whether Ignorance or Want should be punished or is there some other way to help them. Use a debate to decide.
Pay close attention to the arrival of the final ghost. Who does he remind us of? What feelings do we have at his description? Collect any vocabulary and record around the image of a hooded figure (role on the wall could be used here). Ask the pupils to think as Scrooge and decide some questions to ask the spirit as it approaches.