Why Does Charles Dickens Use Staves Instead of Chapters?

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Instead of using the word chapters, which divides a piece of writing in a book, Charles Dickens used staves to signify that the novel was a carol in prose form. In music, a stave or staff is the series of horizontal lines and four spaces and is the archaic form of a verse of stanza in a song.

In the book “A Christmas Carol,” each stave or chapter represents a different story. Dickens wrote each chapter in a form of Christian allegory of redemption about Christmas and used the word stave to remind readers that he created the book with carols in mind. The renowned writer also used the same musical scheme in his other Christmas books. In “The Chimes,” the books are divided into “quarters,” which represent the quarter chimes of a striking clock. He divided “The Cricket in the Hearth” into chirps. The first line of “The Cricket in the Hearth,” which was “The kettle began it!” was inspired by the opening of Sir Alexander MacKenzie’s operetta, which started with a kettle coming to a boil.

Dickens is reportedly a music lover and enjoyed the music of Mozart, Chopin and Mendelssohn. He wrote a few ballads and songs himself, including “The Ivy Green,” which can be read in the “Pickwick Papers.” In 1836, Dickens was inspired to write an opera libretto titled “The Village Coquettes.” He also had ties with the Royal Academy of Music.