This tale by the Briton Roald Dahl was his first work to be translated in Russia. It earned the praise of the literary “father” of Cheburashka and Uncle Fedor, Eduard Uspensky, a man jealous of others’ literary success. And later a movie was made based on this book, with the inimitable Johnny Depp as the eccentric “chocolate magician” Willy Wonka. What is the meaning of this short story, which reminds us of British classics like Oliver Twist as well as the much later mega-popular Harry Potter saga?
What does “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” tell us about?
Although Charlie Bucket is not an orphan, he grows up not even poor, but really poor, squatting in the same room as his parents and grandparents and wearing patched and darned clothes. The book was written in 1964 and takes place in a world where the Internet had not yet been invented, so Charlie learns about Willy Wonka’s wonderful candy factory from TV shows. Charlie doesn’t even have his own bed, let alone his own room and desk, so he has no idea he’ll win his lucky ticket to this Hoffman-like fantasy fairy tale realm. Well, what happens next is not even in his wildest fantasies.
The Meaning of the Story “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
The meaning of this fairy tale can be interpreted in many ways. For example, “if you dare to firmly believe in your dreams and listen to wise advice, the dream will surely come true.” After all, Charlie took his grandfather’s advice and spent the coin he found in the street dirt, which allowed him to go to Willy Wonka’s factory, an excursion available only to rich children. As the story progresses, it turns out that Willy Wonka also grew up in poverty, realized his cherished dream, and therefore sympathizes with Charlie, seeing in him a kindred spirit.
In addition, we can conclude from this tale that poor people are luckier than rich people, provided that the poor person is resourceful, kind, and unselfish, and the rich person is stupid, limited, vain, and greedy. Such are the rich kids whose parents were able to pay for a tour of Willy Wonka’s Wonder Factory. One of the boys is obsessed with primitive action movies and acts like a juvenile gangster himself, the other is monstrously voracious. Wealthy heiress Veruca Salt is not only impossibly stupid, but is also used to having her flighty wishes granted as if by magic. Finally, future big sports star Violetta thinks only about her current and future records. Not surprisingly, a sad though comical ending awaits these guys, and the single and childless Willy Wonka proclaims baby Charlie as his companion and heir in the finale.
Analysis of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Critics who have analyzed Dahl’s tale find that its plot, as well as the types of characters, are not at all new. The poor little urchin, who not only gets a complete “dream come true”, but also rises to fame, the shaming of the limited, stupid and greedy rich, pictures of a fairy tale kingdom of sweets and the eccentric good wizard, rewarding and punishing on merit – all this is already familiar to both connoisseurs of the respected genre of literary tale, and connoisseurs of the British classics. However, this time the disgusting moneybags are not adult men and women, but children, not even in their teens.
In addition, critics question the brutality of the massacres that Willy Wonka’s sidekicks do to the little rich people. For example, Mike, nicknamed Teevee, gets sucked into the “black hole” of the TV camera, so that he turns into a thumb-boy and is transported to his favorite TV screen. The ever-chewing Violetta swallows the experimental gum herself and swells up like a balloon, despite Mr. Wonka’s warnings. Well, the nasty Veruca, who demands that Willy Wonka’s faithful assistants, the clever squirrels, fulfill her foolish wishes, is dragged away by the squirrels herself and dumped into the garbage chute.
However, in the final of the tale, all the guys are alive and well, and Violetta in addition has become unusually flexible, which will help her achieve new sports records. However, harmful Mike Teevee stretched to three meters, and now he towers over his peers, but also over his own parents.
Nor do the fabulous oompa-loompas who work at Wonka’s factory live up to the latest demands of political correctness. They are too reminiscent of the obliging, perpetually singing and dancing natives of old adventure novels. These were the associations that some of Dahl’s overly picky readers had, which led the writer to “repaint” these little toilers from black to bright pink.
And Mr. Wonka’s story raises perplexing questions-the eccentric old bachelor, who never had a wife or children, suddenly developed friendly feelings for the little boy! “Surely there’s a reason for all this!” – will say the inveterate zealots of morality, demanding that this book be hastily rewritten or at least removed from the shelves of bookstores and school libraries for all eternity.
The Story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Like many other authors of famous fairy tales, Roald Dahl told the story of Charlie to his children before reproducing it on paper. At the time, his family was facing severe trials: his daughter Olivia had recently passed away and one of his sons was seriously ill. To comfort and entertain children, and the writer began to tell them his first-ever fairy tale.
Roald Dahl himself said that the plot of “Charlie” was born out of childhood impressions. Like many British boys before the war, he went to boarding school. From time to time the pupils were given chocolates with a surprise. It diversified their monotonous life, and young Roald dreamed of becoming a confectioner when he grew up. He never fulfilled that childish dream, but he did invent the world’s largest and most fantastical candy factory.
The Meaning of the Book Title “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
Like such famous fairy tale titles as “Gelsomino in the Land of Liars” or “Gulliver’s Journey to the Land of Giants,” the title of this book does not allow for ambiguous interpretations. It talks about a little boy who experiences amazing adventures in a chocolate factory. By the way, the books by Dahl, Swift, and Rodari have one more thing in common: they are all satirical narratives.
The Problematics of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
At first glance, the moral of a fascinating story with a quirky plot is as simple as two times two: the poor are the good guys and the rich are the bad guys (or trashy girls). If Charlie and his relatives evoke sympathy and even respect for their resourcefulness, determination, and inexhaustible zest for life, and Willy Wonka is not only cranky but also fair, then the rich and spoiled kids are just caricatures, parodies of real people, even if they acted in a fantasy setting.
Still, you can’t say that this book teaches contempt for the rich, because in the finale Charlie himself becomes Willy Wonka’s adopted son and heir, without losing touch with his own family. Most likely, Dahl interprets in his own way the well-known slogan: “From each according to his abilities – to each according to his work. However, this is not a communist slogan, but a slightly altered biblical phrase, a quote from the great book, which says: “To each according to his deeds.
What does “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” teach?
Despite Willy Wonka’s appealing features, this book hardly teaches young readers how to shove unpleasant guests down the garbage chute, reduce them to the size of a plastic doll, or paint them purple. Much better to learn from this same character the tenacity that helped him once work his way up from poverty, or his ingenuity that helps him create extraordinary sweets. As for Charlie the Kid, you can learn from him, as well as from his grandfather, the kindness, resourcefulness, and optimism that helped the boy pass all the tests and prove himself at the candy factory at his best.
Explanation of the ending of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
The ending of this fairy tale book full of strange adventures is rather traditional and is almost in the spirit of the 19th century children’s story: be good, don’t lose your nerve, and you’ll definitely succeed, just like Charlie. This feature has made Roald Dahl’s tale a target for progressive critics, who felt that the author “feeds” the young reader’s illusions. But the kids loved Dahl’s tale for the author’s inexhaustible imagination, which was the main reason for the book’s popularity throughout the reading world.