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#1458. Adapting "A Christmas Carol"

Reading/Writing, level: Middle
Posted Wed Dec 22 08:47:49 PST 1999 by M. O'Driscoll ().
Ardsley High School, Ardsley, Westchester Co.
Materials Required: Paper and pen
Activity Time: Two class lessons (80 min.)
Concepts Taught: Reading original text for guidelines, writing adaptation

Name: _________________________________
Date:___________________
English 9R
Mrs. O'Driscoll

Adapting Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall
not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or
with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.

Their faithful Friend and Servant,
C. D.
December, 1843.


Happy holidays! Our mission today is to update the beloved holiday story, A Christmas Carol. This classic tale has been told many times in many ways, in film, on stage, etc. Your task today is to modernize the story, tailoring it to your life and liking. Begin by completing the following table:

Original Title:
A Christmas Carol New Title:

Main Character's Name/Major Characteristic:
Ebenezer Scrooge: ill-tempered miser who "bah humbugs" Christmas and its trappings.

Main Character's Name/Major Characteristic:
Original Plot:
In the course of one night, Scrooge is haunted by three "spirits," who convince him that his life has been wasted in material pursuit, rather than in love of others. New Plot:
Ghosts who haunt Scrooge:
Ghost of Christmas Past
Ghost of Christmas Present
Ghost of Christmas Future New "Wake-up Calls"
Detailed description of main character :
Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind-stone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dogdays; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas. Detailed description of new main character:


Two Samples of Main Character's Dialogue:
". . .every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!"

"If they [the poor] would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population." Two Samples of Main Character's Dialogue:
Original beginning:
"Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon `Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail." Your story's beginning:
Minor Characters who try to convince Scrooge of the joy of the holiday season:
Fred, Scrooge's nephew
Bob Cratchit (Scrooge's clerk-office assistant)
Tiny Tim Cratchit (disabled son of Bob Cratchit)
Jacob Marley (Scrooge's business partner who has been dead seven years and comes back as a ghost to warn Scrooge of the urgent need to reform)
Your Minor Characters:
Places where Scrooge is taken by ghosts:
Past: his childhood boarding school and shop where he apprenticed as a teenager. Scrooge "relives" his fiancÚ gently breaking up with him, citing his love of money as more important than his love for her, an impecunious girl.
Present: The Cratchit house. Scrooge watches the materially poor (but, spiritually rich) family eat its Christmas dinner. He realizes that unfortunate Tiny Tim, the most beloved, and sickly, in the house will be dead before long-unless he receives medical attention (too costly for the Cratchits to afford unless helped by some generous individual).
His newphew's home. Fred and his family and friends gaily dance and laugh, gently mocking Scrooge, who, they fail to realize, is watching.
Future: Gravesite. Scrooge observes fellow business associates discussing the death of someone. He finally realizes the "someone" is he, himself! Scrooge then observes some poor hagglers pawning his own goods, including his bed curtains. When Scrooge asks to see if his death has made anyone sad, he is shown some poor tenants who owed Scrooge money. They are relieved that their debt will be carried by someone other than Scrooge, as anyone would be more generous than he.
Cratchit House. The Cratchits weep for dead Tiny Tim.
Gravesite. Scrooge is led to his own gravesite and pushed into it. Places where your main character is taken to learn his or her lesson about life:
The Denouement
Scrooge wakes up in his own bed, thrilled to be alive and ready to reform. He gleefully calls to others, "what day is it?" Delighted to hear it's Christmas, he promptly orders a large Christmas goose for the Cratchits, gives sums of money to charity, worships in church and visits his nephew, Fred and family. Later, he pretends to scold Bob Cratchit for being late to work, but instead, "claps him on the back" and raises his salary.
"Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him." The Denouement

Part II: Begin your short story draft, using the information from the table. Include illustrations of your favorite scenes!