A Christmas Carol is a literary classic, exquisitely crafted in both word and message, inspiring generations of readers. It’s a short work, and worthy of reading each holiday season.
It’s one of the best books about Christmas of all time, and even if you don’t read or re-read the entire book this year, the A Christmas Carol quotes below are sure to remind you of the reason for the season.
Below is a brief summary of the book, followed by forty A Christmas Carol quotes that are placed in an order that takes you on a journey from Scrooge’s initial meanness, to the lessons he learns, and his happy ending.
A Christmas Carol Summary
A Christmas Carol highlights the importance of kindness, love, and other intangible riches, and it offers the hope and power of redemption to those not practicing it.
A grumpy old businessman named Ebenezer Scrooge sits in his unheated counting-house on a cold Christmas Eve many years ago, while his clerk, Bob Cratchit, shivers.
Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, visits and invites Scrooge to his Christmas party, and two men stop in and ask for a charitable contribution. Scrooge reacts viciously, spouting his famous line “Bah, humbug!”
That night, Scrooge is surprised to receive a visitation from the ghost of his dead partner, Jacob Marley. Marley, once a greedy man as well, warns that in the afterlife his spirit is weighed down with heavy chains. Marley tells Scrooge that three spirits will visit him the next three nights, in an attempt to save him from the same fate.
First, the Ghost of Christmas Past arrives and takes Scrooge back to visit the Christmases of his past. Scrooge recounts his childhood, his apprenticeship, and his engagement with fondness and regret, and he sheds tears.
Second, the Ghost of Christmas Present arrives and allows him to see Christmas as it is presently occurring in London. He visits the menial home of his clerk, Cratchit, with his meager feast and charming, young crippled son, Tiny Tim, who begins to warm Scrooge’s heart. Then, he visits the happy Christmas party of his nephew and wishes to stay. The Ghost ages then shows Scrooge two starved children, hidden under his coat. The Ghost disappears, and Scrooge sees a dark figure coming toward him.
Last, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come arrives and shows Scrooge startling scenes of an unnamed man’s death. He asks the name of the dead man and sees his own name on the gravestone. He promises to change if the Ghost will change his fate.
Scrooge returns to Christmas Day with a new lease on life, ready to share the Christmas spirit. He sends a large turkey to the Cratchit house and attends his nephew’s party.
And as the years pass, he remains a changed man of generosity and warmth. He bonds with Tiny Tim who utters the memorable phrase, “God bless us, everyone!”
A Christmas Carol Quotes
Below are forty A Christmas Carol quotes that take you along on Scrooge’s journey.
“God bless us, everyone!”
“God bless us, everyone!”
“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.”
“Darkness was cheap, and Scrooge liked it.”
“Bah,” said Scrooge, “Humbug.”
“Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, 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.”
“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
“If I could work my will, 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.”
“Christmas is a poor excuse every 25th of December to pick a man’s pockets.”
“External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty.”
Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
“Old Marley was as dead as a doornail. Mind! I don’t mean to say that, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a doornail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a doornail.”
“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”
“I was only going to say,” said Scrooge’s nephew, “that the consequence of his taking a dislike to us, and not making merry with us, is, as I think, that he loses some pleasant moments, which could do him no harm.”
“Come, then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”
“It is always the person not in the predicament who knows what ought to have been done in it, and would unquestionably have done it too.”
“What is the point of having all that money if you are never going to enjoy it?”
“No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused.”
“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,’ returned the nephew. ‘Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”
“There are some upon this earth of yours who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name; who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.”
“It is required of every man,” the ghost returned, “that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and, if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death.”
“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”
“You fear the world too much,’ she answered gently. ‘All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of its sordid reproach. I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off, one by one, until the master passion, Gain, engrosses you. Have I not?”
“Money can’t buy a happy life, or a peaceful death.”
“No rest, no peace. Incessant torture of remorse.”
“There was nothing of high mark in this. They were not a handsome family; they were not well dressed; their shoes were far from being waterproof; their clothes were scanty; and Peter might have known, and very likely did, the inside of a pawnbroker’s. But, they were happy, grateful, pleased with one another, and contented with the time.”
“Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s misused oppurtunities!”
“There are many things which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited.”
“At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire; and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he used to be.”
“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.”
“He went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and for, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed of any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness.”
“He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”
“He was consious of a thousand odours floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares, long, long, forgotten.”
“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!” Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. “The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.”
“Christmas, and the end of the year, is definitely a time when people try their hardest to begin afresh, “a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.”
“In short, I should have liked to have had the lightest license of a child, and yet be man enough to know its value.”
“I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his stockings. “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”
“His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.”
“Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs!”
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”
“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”
I hope these A Christmas Carol quotes and summary put you in the holiday spirit.