Background.

A Christmas Carol.
  • The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the house, that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold” is a quotation from A Christmas Carol (Stave 1).
  • A Christmas Carol is a novella, or short story, written by Charles Dickens and first published in the Christmas of 1843. The allegorical tale tells the story of the transformation of the mean-spirited Ebenezer Scrooge through the visits of the spirit of his former business partner and three ghosts over the course of a Christmas Eve night. It remains a much-loved traditional Christmas tale.

Context.

This quotation is a description of the weather as it lurks at the entrance to the home of the character Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge lives in miserable rooms which had once belonged to his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley. Dickens has humourously decribed them as a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and forgotten the way out again.

Ebenezer Scrooge is returning home on a bitter cold and foggy Christmas Eve, having finished work and eaten a melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern. The fog and cold are worsening as the evening draws on, adding to the suspense of this supernatural story.

In this quotation, Dickens appears to imply that even the spirit of the weather was depressed at being around the entrance of Scrooge’s home, as it sat in mournful meditation.


Illustration from the original publication of A Christmas Carol showing Ebenezer Scrooge being visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley.
Illustration from the original publication of A Christmas Carol showing Ebenezer Scrooge (left), here being visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, bound by the chains he forged in life.

Literary Technique.

This is an example of the figurative language Charles Dickesn uses, here using the literary technique of allusion. Allusion is a reference to something from history that is not explained to the reader, but adds context to the story. Many allusions make reference to previous works of literature or art. In this example, the Genius of the Weather refers to the spirit of the weather. The term In Roman mythology, the genius is the individual instance of a general divine nature that is present in every individual person, place, or thing. Much like a guardian angel, the genius would follow each man from the hour of his birth until the day he died. In this case, Dickens is alluding to the spirt of the weather. By giving the weather human-like characteristics Dickens is also using the technique of personification.


Symbolism in A Christmas Carol: Weather.

Weather is used as a motif in A Christmas Carol to represent Scrooge’s character and how it changes. As we are introduced to Scrooge the weather is cold, bleak, biting with a heavy fog that permeates at every chink and keyhole. This bleak weather reflects the coldness of Scrooge’s character whilst the fog is symbolic of masking what he cannot see, namely that he is ignorant to the plight of those less fortunate around him. After Scrooge harshly dismisses two charity collectors the fog and darkness thickened and the cold became intense. Even the spirit of the weather appears when we learn the fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the house, that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold. Towards the end of the story, when Scrooge has resolved to be a changed man, he looks out and, although it remains a cold winter’s day, the weather has also turned, with no fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air.


Ebenezer Scrooge.

Ebenezer Scrooge is one of the most famous characters created by Charles Dickens and arguably one of the most famous in English literature. The protagonist of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is the cold-hearted and mean-spirited accountant. His business partner, the equally mean Jacob Marley, died seven years previous and he lives alone, having never married. Through a visit one Christmas Eve by the ghost of Marley and three subsequent spirits, Scrooge is awakened to his meaness and the impact it has on others.

Source.

Taken from the following passage of Stave 1 (Marley’s Ghost) of A Christmas Carol:

A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!” said Scrooge, buttoning his great-coat to the chin. “But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning.”

The clerk promised that he would; and Scrooge walked out with a growl. The office was closed in a twinkling, and the clerk, with the long ends of his white comforter dangling below his waist (for he boasted no great-coat), went down a slide on Cornhill, at the end of a lane of boys, twenty times, in honour of its being Christmas Eve, and then ran home to Camden Town as hard as he could pelt, to play at blindman’s-buff.

Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern; and having read all the newspapers, and beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker’s-book, went home to bed. He lived in chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner. They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and forgotten the way out again. It was old enough now, and dreary enough, for nobody lived in it but Scrooge, the other rooms being all let out as offices. The yard was so dark that even Scrooge, who knew its every stone, was fain to grope with his hands. The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the house, that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold.

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The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the house, that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold.
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