The story is a Victorian morality tale of an old and bitter miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who undergoes a profound experience of redemption when he is haunted by ghosts on Christmas Eve. During the course of the night, he is visited by the spirits of "Christmas Past," "Christmas Present," and the ghost of "Christmas Yet to Come." The spirits show Scrooge moments from his life that open his eyes and make him realize that he desperately needs redemption and forgiveness from his fellow men. In the end, Scrooge changes his life and becomes a kind-hearted soul.
The story deals extensively with one of Dickens' perennial themes, that of poverty, and its causes and effects. Incidentally, the first edition of A Christmas Carol was illustrated by John Leech a politically radical artist who in the cartoon Substance and Shadow printed earlier in 1843, had explicitly criticised artists who failed to address social issues.
A Christmas Carol has been adapted to movies and TV countless times. According to the Internet Movie Database, various movie adaptations of the story were filmed as early as 1910. On December 25, 1939 it was read before a CBS radio audience and this marked the first time this story was transmitted over radio. The story has also been used by successive generations of movie-makers and television directors to make their own points. In particular, many sitcoms have had episodes adapting or spoofing the story.
According to critics, the most popular and most enduring motion picture adaptation of the story was made in England in 1951. Originally titled Scrooge (and renamed to A Christmas Carol for its American theatrical release), it starred Alastair Sim as Scrooge, and was directed by Brian Desmond-Hurst.
Other noteworthy adaptations of the story include
See also Tiny Tim.