As I head out this morning to begin a week's worth of school presentations of Charles Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL, I thought I'd share the little lexicon I distribute to help students understand the story a little better. This is also in the program for public performances.
A Christmas Carol -- Lexicon
A song or ballad of joy celebrating the birth of Christ
The legislature of Great Britain
Union workhouses: home for the poor and destitute where people worked in exchange for room and board; often riddled with disease and death
The City of London
Business district of London
A device, usually metal and ornamental, attached by a hinge to a door, used for knocking
A dowerless girl
Dickens deleted the word “orphan” from this description. Apparently, Belle is in mourning (hence the black dress) due to the death of her parents who have left her nothing.
A servant hired by the day to do odd housework
Slang for a miser
Half a crown
Two shillings and six pence (an eighth of a British pound in old currency)
St. Stephen’s Day, the day after Christmas Day, called “Boxing Day” in England, when gratuities (or Christmas boxes) are given to those who have provided services during the year.
Christmas bowl of smoking bishop
A spicy punch like mulled wine (a popular tavern drink in the 18th century)