This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at language in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Language use in A Christmas Carol presents a mix of simple dialogue, direct narration and long, complex poetic descriptions. Word play features prominently, especially in Scrooge’s dry and frequently sarcastic observations. Often the language engages the senses by evoking the sights in the marketplace, by mimicking the sound of bells or by trying to recreate the movement of people in crowds, dances or games.
Although visual elements of a text, such as layout, font and illustration, are all important, language is the primary medium through which a reader understands a text. Written texts could not, by definition, exist without words.
Authors use language with great care. Beyond the literal meaning of each word lies a weight of symbolic meanings and other associations. Language provides the matter through which imagery, such as metaphor, simile and personification, and other literary effects can be created. Dialogue, setting and characterisation all depend on an author’s skilful use of language.
Pay close attention to language choices in a text. Deeper understanding will be the reward for your efforts. Allow yourself to linger over words in order to get beyond the surface meaning. What does the language suggest? Does it invite you to think about anything else? Remember that the author has chosen this language carefully; this means that you should devote similar care to your analysis. Taking time to think about language choice will help you to decipher the text’s deeper meanings.
Answer the questions below to develop your understanding of the way language choices affect the interpretation of a text.