The novel is structured in five sections called ‘staves’, an old word for verses of folk songs, to link with the ‘Carol’ of its title.
Language, form and structure
A Christmas Carol (Grades 9–1)
Traditional ghost story conventions include a sequence of three apparitions and mysterious shifts in time and place.
The first-person narrative conveys a strong, sometimes ironic, authorial voice with a sense of direct, personal address from Dickens to his reader.
Patterned sentences emphasise important details or create humorous effects and rhythm when read aloud, e.g. the anaphora of starting several phrases with ‘No’ (Stave One, p. 3) stresses Scrooge’s isolation.
Dickens creates rich descriptive effects with adjectives, e.g. he gives many types of food sensual appeal – ‘juicy oranges, luscious pears’ (Stave Three, p. 42).