This GCSE English Literature quiz will test you on setting in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The setting of a text refers to the location and the time in which the events take place. Events which occur in the background, even when these are only alluded to by characters, are also elements of a literary text’s setting. This wider fictional world is called context (not to be confused with the author’s real-life context, however). Atmosphere, another important component of setting, can change multiple times in a text. It can be useful to remember that a text might well have several settings, since it is unusual for all of the events to take place in one location.
Consider the setting of your text carefully, asking yourself what effect it creates on the meaning.
Authors show how their characters are affected by the world in which they live. Characters’ reported thoughts, behaviour and dialogue will show the effect political or social events have on them.
A Christmas Carol is rooted in a very specific time and place. The City, Scrooge’s apartment and the various Christmas feasts are portrayed vividly. Other scenes are dreamlike, such as the shattered landscape where miners celebrate Christmas. Such variety is used powerfully to convey the message of this text, especially where Scrooge’s cold, bare room after death contrasts with the loving and crowded Cratchit household.
Geographical setting includes the region, country, environment, landscapes and buildings in which events occur. It even includes the weather. In A Christmas Carol, for example, pay attention to the difference in the weather at the beginning and at the end of the tale. Do events occur in the same place, or in a variety of places? Do characters travel, or arrive from elsewhere? How does the interaction of characters with their environment create meaning in the text?
It is often useful to compare the time a text is set with when it was written. Do these times differ? Why might an author choose to set a text in the past, present or future? How does such a decision and its consequences change our understanding of the story?
Answer the questions below on setting in A Christmas Carol.