Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Themes


Roald Dahl uses a book about chocolate, the ultimate indulgence, to relay a message about the dangers of greed. All four of the naughty children are greedy in some way: Augustus is a glutton; Veruca is a spoiled brat; Violet is greedy for gum, and Mike is greedy for television. This book illustrates how greed can consume and ultimately destroy a person, particularly children, since each child is changed forever as a result of his or her greed.

Just Deserts

The idea of karma resonates heavily within Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The children that do bad things have bad things happen to them. On the flip side, Charlie, who is a very good boy, has great things happen to him. He is kind and brave, and owns up to his errors. At the end of the book, Wonka bequeaths Charlie his factory. Each of the other children receives a punishment that has something to do with their vice. Augustus Gloop, the terrible glutton, gets stuck in a pipe after falling into a chocolate river. Violet Beauregard, the gum-chewer, gets turned into a human blueberry after eating an experimental piece of bubble gum. Veruca Salt, the spoiled brat, gets sent down a garbage chute after she doesn’t get what she wants. Finally, Mike Teavee, obsessed with electronics, is shrunk when he tries to teleport through a TV. These painful punishments are what the bad people have earned. Charlie, being the only good and kind child, gets the only reward. The other good people, namely Charlie’s family, all receive the reward of a place to live and unlimited food and care. Their perseverance in their poor stage gave them hope, which led to them being heavily rewarded.

Bad Parenting

The story implicates the children's parents as responsible for much of their bad behavior. Most of the Oompa-Loompa songs, which are meant to teach important lessons, speak about the parents' role in corrupting these children, whether by indulging them, like Mr. and Mrs. Gloop and Mr. and Mrs. Salt, or simply turning the other cheek and not putting a stop to their bad habits, like Mr. and Mrs. Beauregarde and Mr. and Mrs. Teavee. This book makes it clear how much influence parents have over the way their children turn out, and it serves as a cautionary tale to parents to make sure they raise children with sound values.

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

An important theme in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is how appearances can be deceiving. Many characters in the story are not what they seem. For instance, Dahl chooses to make most of the good things in this piece small. People pity Charlie for his small size and malnourished frailty, unaware of the goodness that he carries in his heart. Additionally, Wonka is also quite small, and the first description focuses partly on this. The Oompa Loompas are also a good thing in a small package. They are described as being the size of pygmies, yet they have the most important jobs in the factory, and they try to instill morals into the reader. The factory itself is small on the outside, yet extends deep within the earth and contains numerous incredible things. These things encourage the reader to question reality and always look further than the surface.

Nothing is Impossible

Wonka's creations completely defy nature: hot ice cream, chocolate bars sent by television, chewing gum meals. Everything he creates is out of this world, and further proof that nothing is truly impossible if you can think it up. Even more, Charlie himself proves that nothing is impossible with a dream: he opened merely four chocolate bars during the entire Golden Ticket contest and managed to find one, while some children opened hundreds per day and did not. No one would expect a small, impoverished boy like Charlie to be the next heir of the Wonka factory, and yet he has achieved it—this is an inspirational message to readers that even the seemingly impossible is within reach.

Poverty Versus Wealth

The difference between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ runs throughout the text of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Charlie is heartbreakingly poor, and this causes us to heavily sympathize with him. It also makes the climactic scene, where he receives ownership of the factory, that much sweeter. All of the other kids at the factory are very well off, and Veruca is rich. Coming with this, they all have terrible vices. Veruca is spoiled, Augustus is greedy, Violet can’t stop chewing gum, and Mike is obsessed with electronics. Money sets the background, as money in the wrong hands can be dangerous. With their money, the kids became bad. With his money, Wonka created a veritable fairyland. Charlie, without money, isn’t tempted and stays pure of heart. Mr. Salt is the epitome of the evils of money, as he throws his money around, and buys Veruca a Golden Ticket. Their misdeeds catch up with them, as they are sent down a garbage chute. On the other hand, Charlie handles his poverty quite well. He doesn’t desire unimaginable riches; he only wants enough to get by, and to have the occasional chocolate bar. Of course, Charlie ends up fabulously wealthy, and he can provide for his entire extended family. Veruca is punished for her inherited wealth, while Charlie must earn his.

Kindness and Humility

One of the most notable things about Charlie and the rest of the Bucket family is that despite that bad hand that life has dealt them, they are constantly kind to each other and others, showing compassion in the way they care for one another during their hard times. The entire family tries to share their food with Charlie, and Charlie in return tries to share his food with them. They are grateful for what they have, even if it is not a lot. Growing up in a home that places these important values above all else has shaped Charlie into the upstanding child that he is, and distances him from the unkind, ungrateful children who are eliminated from the contest.