A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

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A Christmas Carol is a classic Christmas story written by Charles Dickens in 1843. It is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean and nasty old man who is visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve. It is a timeless story about redemption and the power of forgiveness and is considered one of the best Christmas stories ever written. It has been a favorite of readers for generations and has been adapted into many different mediums, including movies and plays. For many, it has even become part of the holiday tradition of Christmas Eve dinner. Download a free copy of A Christmas Carol PDF by clicking the button below.

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Yes, it is! A Christmas Carol was first published in 1843 so it is in the public domain. You are therefore welcome to download and read it for free. We hope you enjoy it!

A Christmas Carol Summary

Charles Dickens divided A Chrismas Carol into five chapters which he called Staves. Each stave or chapter follows Ebenezer Scrooge on a different part of his adventure into the past, present, and future.

Stave One – Marley’s Ghost

In the first chapter of A Christmas Carol, we meet the mean old Ebenezer Scrooge. He doesn’t like anyone very much and he is a miserable man. Even though he is wealthy he isn’t generous at all. He hoards his wealth and refuses to even buy coal to warm his home and office.

The story begins in London on Christmas Eve. It is seven years after his business partner, Jacob Marley, died. Ebenezer is invited to Christmas dinner by his nephew Fred but he refuses because he hates Christmas. His reply to the invitation, “Bah! Humbug!” He grudgingly gives his clerk, Bob Cratchit, Christmas day off even though poor Cratchit is very much underpaid and overworked.

That night, as Ebenezer sits in his cold house, he is visited by the ghost of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley. Jacob is forced to carry heavy chains as he wanders the earth. He tells Scrooge that the chains entwine him because of the life of selfishness and greed that he lived. He warns Scrooge that he could end up the same way if he doesn’t change his ways. He tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts and that he should head their messages so that he isn’t cursed with the same fate.

Stave Two – The First Of The Three Spirits

The first spirit to visit Scrooge is also known as the Ghost of Christmas Past. The spirit takes Scrooge back in time to different scenes from his past. He relives some of his happiest times when life seemed more simple. The spirit also takes him back to the evening when his fiancé, Belle, ends their relationship because she knows that he will never be able to love her as much as he loves money. Scrooge is very upset and asks the spirit to take him home.

Stave Three – The Second Of The Three Spirits

The Ghost of Christmas Present visits Scrooge next. This spirit takes Scrooge to different places in the present time, showing Scrooge how the families in London are preparing for Christmas. He then takes Scrooge to Bob Cratchit’s house where he sees the family getting ready for their Christmas Eve dinner. He notices that the family do not have much as far as a Christmas feast is concerned but they all seem incredibly happy. He also discovers that Bob has a crippled son, Tiny Tim who is very warm and kind. Scrooge immediately likes Tiny Tim but the spirit warns him that Tiny Tim is very ill.

The spirit then takes Scrooge to his nephew Fred’s Christmas party and he sees how happy and joyous everyone is. Before the spirit disappears he shows Scrooge two small children that look like they are starving. He calls them Ignorance and Want. He warns Scrooge to beware of them and mocks him when he shows concern for them. Just then the spirit disappears and Scrooge sees a ghostly apparition walking toward him.

Stave Four – The Last Of the Spirits

The third spirit is also known as The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come and he takes Scrooge to Christmas in the future. The ghost is silent and doesn’t say a word throughout his visit. He first takes Scrooge to the funeral of a businessman who is so disliked that the only reason people attend is because they have been told there will be a free lunch. He notices that not one person shows any emotion or sadness over this person’s death.

Scrooge becomes distraught and begs the spirit to show him some tenderness that is connected to death. The spirit then takes him to see Bob Cratchit’s family where he sees the family mourning the death of their beloved Tiny Tim. The family is still just as warm and loving towards each other even though they have lost Tiny Tim.

Just then Scrooge realizes that it is nearly time for the spirit to leave. He asks the spirit to tell him who the dead man was that he had seen earlier. The spirit takes Scrooge to a churchyard and points to a grave that is neglected and overgrown by weeds.

Before reaching the headstone Ebenezer asks the spirit to tell him if everything he has seen is set in stone or if the future can be changed. The spirit does not answer and just keeps pointing towards the headstone. As Scrooge creeps nearer he reads the inscription on the headstone and realizes that it is his very own grave! Scrooge is devastated and promises that he will change. The spirit then suddenly disappears.

Stave Five – The End of It

All of a sudden Scrooge realizes that he is back in his own room. He also realizes that he is back in his own time and that he still has time to change and make amends. He jumps out of bed a changed man and immediately donates money to a charity that he refused to help the previous day. He sends the Cratchit family an enormous turkey for Christmas lunch and visits his nephew Fred.

From that day onwards Ebenezer Scrooge treats everyone with kindness and respect. He gives Bob Cratchit a big pay increase and spends lots of time with Tiny Tim becoming almost like a father figure to him.

A Christmas Carol Movies

How Many Movies Of Christmas Carol Are There?

To date, there are over 100 Christmas Carol movies! They range all the way from cartoon adaptations to full-length movies to shorter series. Some famous characters star in some of these movies including Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, The Muppets, The Flintstones, and even Smurfs believe it or not!

What Is The Best Film Version Of A Christmas Carol?

The general consensus is that the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol is the best. It was directed by Brian Desmond Hurst and stars Alistair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge. Although originally not that well received in the United States on its release it became a holiday favorite very quickly and it was regularly shown over Christmas from then on.

A Christmas Carol | 1951 Trailer

A Christmas Carol | 2009 Trailer

If you would like something a little different then this adaptation could be just for you! It was directed by Robert Zemeckis and it stars Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge as well as all three Ghosts! The movie is a computer-animated adaptation and it was Disney’s third adaptation of the story.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol | 1984 Trailer

Speaking of Disney, another all-time favorite is Mickey’s Christmas Carol! It is an animated movie starring the most well-loved Disney characters including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge. This adaptation received an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1984 and it is still incredibly popular today.


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is one of the most famous holiday stories ever written and it is still enjoyed today even though it is almost 180 years old! It has valuable lessons to teach us about love, generosity, friendship and forgiveness and it is enjoyed by kids and adults alike. Download your free copy of A Christmas Carol PDF here to enjoy with your family!

More Free Classic English PDF Books to Enjoy:
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The Great Gatsby
Jane Eyre
Pride And Prejudice
Alice In Wonderland