Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of the greatest children’s novel that was written in 1964 by Roald Dahl, a British novelist, short story writer, poet, fighter pilot and screen writer who is best known for children’s books circling around an unsentimental theme. He has written stories such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, etc. which have often portrayed the use of dark humor to bring out various concepts and ideas to the audience. As the winner of “Millennium Children’s Book Award and Blue Peter Book Award” for this novel, Dahl’s impact on his audience and his universal success was highly appreciated.
This children’s fiction novel was written in 1964 in Buckinghamshire England and published in June 1964. Regardless of the use of simplistic language, the use and depiction of characters, themes and symbols creates a wise distinction and irony among concepts.
The classic distinction between those who have money and those who don’t pervades Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The novel, thus, discusses the most controversial issue in the society, i.e., the societal gap between proletariat or poor working class people and the bourgeoisie or rich people. The novel portrays how to relationship between upper class and lower class can never be a direct relationship because the two can only be related to each other through a mediation of bi-products. In the novel, however, the society is shown to have the same interest in one product – a chocolate. Although this work belongs to children’s literature, the criticism that this novel raised is attributed to societal issues and contrasting conditions and values between the two classes. Regardless of the use of simplistic language, the depiction of characters, themes and symbols creates a vast distinction and irony among concepts.
While plotting his characters, Dahl incorporates them into different living conditions: poverty and opulence. This vast gap between the two different living structures offers the readers a social criticism, pointing out the defects thoroughly instilled in the societal structure and ideologies.
The theme and research-
The theme of class differentiation helps the author to form the background for the moral of the story. The author tends to portray that money is dangerous, especially when it is used unscrupulously. This is put forth as an example through the characters of the children. Veruca’s father embodies all the negative aspects of wealth when he uses his financial resources to secure her a golden ticket. This depicts the use of privilege to secure selfish accomplishments.
In contrary, Dahl also wishes to explain how poverty can often lead to good things. Charlie, the protagonist, is shown to be a poor child deprived of the basic needs, set aside selfish desires. However, it is the dignity with which Charlie handles his poverty that makes him a beloved protagonist. He, unlike the other children, does not yearn for extra- ordinary wealth. As a result of this, by the end of the story, Charlie is awarded with reaches beyond his magnificent dreams.
The story further revolves around the theme of greediness as a danger. While the other four children are shown to be much richer and spoiled than Charlie, it is his humility and respect for satisfaction that helps him attain a fortune. The readers come to agree that he is the most-deserving candidate for the fortune given his well-mannered behavior that follows his miserable financial conditions.
The novel speaks about how poverty can be a cause of depression to many. Charlie’s grandparents lead the same monotonous life of still as a result of the severe impact that poverty has imposed upon them. However, we also see how the slightest of hope can enlighten the poor, bringing them back to life, whilst the rich seem to be in search of more with a lack of satisfaction. The differences in lifestyle and close relations among the family members is also used to portray the class distinction. While Charlie is shown to be close to his family and values the relations, the other kids are depicted as reckless and spoiled.
For every theme that a novel introduces to the audience, we see a varied number of views and implication of thoughts. This theme of an unspoken class- conflict invited various views and critics. An article entitled “An Analysis of the Children’s’s Characters in Roald Dahl’s Novel: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2012), published in the Indonesia Journal of Applied Linguistics, Wan Syakira Meor Hissan discusses the psychology and behavior of the four children characters as a product of bad parenting, spoiled as a result of wealth and status.
Chryl Corbin from the department of African-American studies presents a different view. Through his article, “Deconstructing Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory: Race, Labor and the Changing Depictions of the Oompa-Loompas” (2012), the researcher explains that it was Willy Wonka who created this capitalist system in the novel. He believes that within the economic model of capitalism, Wonka’s chocolate remains as the hierarchical apex of the commodity within the factory and that the power dynamics between Wonka and the Oompa-Loompas is identified as that of the colonizer and the colonized.
Dahl chooses to make the most of the good things in the novel, small. We can visibly acknowledge this with the instance of how people pity Charlie for his small size and malnourished frailty, unaware of the goodness in his heart. Charlie’s poverty makes the climactic scene, where he received ownership of the factory, much impactful. Money sets the background for this theme and the novel as money in the wrong hands can be dangerous.