|Genre||Children's fantasy novel|
|23 November 1964|
|Followed by||Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator|
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 1964 children's novel by British author Roald Dahl. The story features the adventures of young Charlie Bucket inside the chocolate factory of eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was first published in the United Kingdom by George Allen & Unwin. The book has been adapted into two major motion pictures: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in 1971, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2005. The book's sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, was written by Roald Dahl in 1971 and published in 1972. Dahl had also planned to write a third book in the series but never finished it.
The story was originally inspired by Roald Dahl's experience of chocolate companies during his schooldays. Cadbury would often send test packages to the schoolchildren in exchange for their opinions on the new products. At that time (around the 1920s), Cadbury and Rowntree's were England's two largest chocolate makers and they each often tried to steal trade secrets by sending spies, posing as employees, into the other's factory. Because of this, both companies became highly protective of their chocolate-making processes. It was a combination of this secrecy and the elaborate, often gigantic, machines in the factory that inspired Dahl to write the story.
Eleven-year-old Charlie Bucket is very poor and lives in a small house with his parents and four grandparents. One day, Grandpa Joe tells him about the legendary and eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka and all the wonderful sweets and chocolates he made until the other chocolatiers sent in spies to steal his secret recipes, which led him to close the factory to outsiders. The next day, the newspaper announces that Wonka is re-opening the factory and has invited five lucky children to come on a tour, if they find a Golden Ticket inside a Wonka Bar. The first four golden tickets are found by four ill-mannered children: the gluttonous Augustus Gloop, the spoiled and petulant Veruca Salt, the chewing gum-addicted Violet Beauregarde, and the television-obsessed Mike Teave. One day, Charlie sees a 50 pence piece (dollar bill in the US version) buried in the snow. He buys a Wonka Bar and finds the fifth and final golden ticket. He gets offers from many parents but he refuses to give it to anybody. The ticket says he can bring one or two family members with him and Charlie's parents decide to allow Grandpa Joe to go with him.
When the tour begins, Wonka takes the five children and their parents inside the factory, which is a wonderland of confectionery creations that defy logic. They meet the Oompa-Loompas, a race of small people who help him operate the factory.
During the tour, the four "bad" children give in to their individual vices and are ejected from the tour in comical, mysterious, and painful ways. Augustus gets sucked up the pipe to the Fudge Room after drinking from the Chocolate River, Violet blows up into a giant blueberry after chewing an experimental stick of three-course dinner gum, Veruca is thrown down the garbage chute after trying to capture one of the nut-testing squirrels and is considered a "bad nut," and Mike gets shrunk down to size after being sent by Wonkavision while the Oompa-Loompas sing about their behaviour.
With only Charlie remaining in the end, Wonka congratulates him for "winning" the factory. Wonka explains that the whole tour was designed to help him secure a good person to serve as an heir to his business, and Charlie was the only child whose inherent goodness allowed him to pass the morality test. They ride the Great Glass Elevator to Charlie's house; the other four children each go home with a lifetime supply of chocolate, as well as permanent disfigurements from their misbehaviour. Wonka then invites Charlie's family to come and live with him in the factory.
Dahl's widow said that Charlie was originally written as 'a little black boy.' Dahl's biographer said the change to a white character was driven by Dahl's agent, who thought a black Charlie would not appeal to read.
In the first published ion, the Oompa-Loompas were described as African pygmies, and were drawn this way in the original printed ion. After the announcement of a film adaptation sparked a statement from the NAACP expressing concern that the transportation of Oompa-Loompas to Wonka's factory resembled slavery, Dahl found himself sympathising with the NAACP's concerns and published a revised ion. In this ion, as well as the subsequent sequel, the Oompa-Loompas were drawn as being white and appearing similar to hippies, and the references to Africa were deleted. Dahl later expressed regret over the original version, saying that his original intention of depicting Charlie as a black child was evidence that he was not racist.
Various unused and draft material from Dahl's early versions of the novel have been found. In the initial, unpublished drafts of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory nine golden tickets were distributed to tour Willy Wonka's secret chocolate factory and the children faced more rooms and more temptations to test their self-control. Some of the names of the children cut from the final work include:
"Spotty Powder" was first published as a short story in 1973. In 1998 it was included in the children's horror anthology Scary! Stories That Will Make You Scream ed by Peter Haining. The brief note before the story described the story as having been left out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory due to an already-brimming number of misbehaving children characters in the tale. In 2005, The Times reprinted "Spotty Powder" as a "lost" chapter, saying that it had been found in Dahl's desk, written backwards in mirror writing (the same way that Leonardo da Vinci wrote in his journals). Spotty Powder looks and tastes like sugar, but causes bright red pox-like spots to appear on faces and necks five seconds after ingestion, so children who eat Spotty Powder do not have to go to school. The spots fade on their own a few hours later. After learning the purpose of Spotty Powder, the humourless, smug Miranda Piker and her equally humourless father (a schoolmaster) are enraged and disappear into the Spotty Powder room to sabotage the machine. Soon after entering, they are heard making what Mrs. Piker interprets as screams. Mr. Wonka assures her (after making a brief joke where he claims that headmasters are one of the occasional ingredients) that it is only laughter. Exactly what happens to them is not revealed in the extract.
In an early draft, sometime after being renamed from Miranda Grope to Miranda Piker, but before "Spotty Powder" was written, she falls down the chocolate waterfall and ends up in the Peanut-Brittle Mixer. This results in the "rude and disobedient little kid" becoming "quite delicious." This early draft poem was slightly rewritten as an Oompa-Loompa song in the lost chapter, which now puts her in the "Spotty-Powder mixer" and instead of being "crunchy and ... good [peanut brittle]" she is now "useful [for truancy] and ... good."
In 2014, The Guardian revealed that Dahl had removed another chapter ("The Vanilla Fudge Room") from an early draft of the book. The Guardian reported the now-eliminated passage was "deemed too wild, subversive and insufficiently moral for the tender minds of British children almost 50 years ago." In what was originally chapter five in that version of the book, Charlie goes to the factory with his mother (instead of his grandfather, as originally published). At this point, the chocolate factory tour is down to eight kids, including Tommy Troutbeck and Wilbur Rice. After the entire group climbs to the top of the titular fudge mountain, eating vanilla fudge along the way, Troutbeck and Rice decide to take a ride on the wagons carrying away chunks of fudge. The wagons take them directly to the Pounding And Cutting Room, where the fudge is reformed and sliced into small squares for retail sale. Wonka states the machine is equipped with "a large wire strainer ... which is used specially for catching children before they fall into the machine" adding that "It always catches them. At least it always has up to now."
The chapter dates back to an early draft with ten golden tickets, including one each for Miranda Grope and Augustus Pottle, who fell into the chocolate river prior to the events of "Fudge Mountain". Augustus Pottle was routed to the Chocolate Fudge Room, not the Vanilla Fudge Room explored in this chapter, and Miranda Grope ended up in the Fruit and Nuts Room. In a later draft, she became known as Miranda Mary Piker, who went to the Peanut Brittle Room.
The Warming Candy Room is dominated by a boiler, which heats a scarlet liquid. The liquid is dispensed one drop at a time, where it cools and forms a hard shell, storing the heat and "by a magic process ... the hot heat changes into an amazing thing called 'cold heat.'" After eating a single warming candy, one could stand naked in the snow comfortably. This is met with predictable disbelief from Clarence Crump, Bertie Upside, and Terence Roper, who proceed to eat at least 100 warming candies each, resulting in profuse perspiration. The three boys and their families discontinue the tour after they are taken to cool off "in the large refrigerator for a few hours."
Roald Dahl originally planned for a child called Marvin Prune to be included in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Dahl submitted the excised chapter regarding Marvin Prune to The Horn Book Review in the early 1970s. Rather than publish the chapter, Horn Book responded with a critical essay by novelist Eleanor Cameron, who criticised Dahl's worth as a human being.
Although it was believed that Horn Book never returned the chapter, Marvin Prune's chapter is actually available, but it has not yet been published. "The Children's-Delight Room" was reworked into "Spotty Powder". It is present in two versions. One features the workers from "The Vanilla Fudge Room" but also include "tiny whispery voices" who sing the songs after each child's exit, and Charlie with his mother and father. The second version features Grandpa Joe, Charlie's grandfather, who is present in the final book, and the Oompa-Loompas. In the version with the voices, the voices actually sing two songs, a two-verse type one found in "The Vanilla Fudge Room", plus a longer one like the type that is found in the final book. Like Miranda, Marvin loves school and suffers the same fate as her—supposedly getting ground into powder.
Fan of the book since childhood, film director Tim Burton wrote: "I responded to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because it respected the fact that children can be adults." In a 2006 list for the Royal Society of Literature, author J. K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter books) named Charlie and the Chocolate Factory among her top ten books that every child should read.
A 2004 study found that it was a common read-aloud book for fourth-graders in schools in San Diego County, California. A 2012 survey by the University of Worcester determined that it was one of the most common books that U.K. adults had read as children, after Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Wind in The Willows.
Groups who have praised the book include:
In the 2012 survey published by SLJ, a monthly with primarily US audience, Charlie was the second of four books by Dahl among their Top 100 Chapter Books, one more than any other writer. Time magazine in the US included the novel in its list of the 100 Best Young-Adult Books of All Time; it was one of three Dahl novels on the list, more than any other author.
Although the book has always been popular and considered a children's classic by many literary critics, a number of prominent individuals have spoken unfavourably of the novel over the years. Children's novelist and literary historian John Rowe Townsend has described the book as "fantasy of an almost literally nauseating kind" and accused it of "astonishing insensitivity" regarding the original portrayal of the Oompa-Loompas as African black pygmies, although Dahl did revise this in later ions. Another novelist, Eleanor Cameron, compared the book to the sweets that form its subject matter, commenting that it is "delectable and soothing while we are undergoing the brief sensory pleasure it affords but leaves us poorly nourished with our taste dulled for better fare." Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in support of this assessment in a letter to The Horn Book Review, saying that her own daughter would turn "quite nasty" upon finishing the book. Dahl responded to Cameron's criticisms by noting that the classics that she had cited would not be well received by contemporary children.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has frequently been adapted for other media, including games, radio, the screen, and stage, most often as plays or musicals for children – often titled Willy Wonka or Willy Wonka, Jr. and almost always featuring musical numbers by all the main characters (Wonka, Charlie, Grandpa Joe, Violet, Veruca, etc.); many of the songs are revised versions from the 1971 film.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has undergone numerous ions and been illustrated by numerous artists.
The cover photo of the 50th anniversary ion, published by Penguin Modern Classics for sale in the UK and aimed at the adult market, received widespread commentary and criticism. The cover is a photo of a heavily made up young girl seated on her mother's knee and wearing a doll-like expression, taken by the photographers Sofia Sanchez and Mauro Mongiello as part of a photo shoot for a 2008 fashion article in a French magazine, for a fashion article titled "Mommie Dearest." In addition to writing that "the image seemingly has little to do with the beloved children's classic", reviewers and commentators in social media (such as posters on the publisher's Facebook page) have said the art evokes Lolita, Valley of the Dolls, and JonBenet Ramsey; looks like a scene from Toddlers & Tiaras; and is "misleading," "creepy," "sexualised," "grotesque," "misjudged on every level," "distasteful and disrespectful to a gifted author and his work," "pretentious," "trashy", "outright inappropriate," "terrifying," "really obnoxious," and "weird & kind of paedophilic."
The publisher explained its objective in a blog post accompanying the announcement about the jacket art: "This new image . . . looks at the children at the center of the story, and highlights the way Roald Dahl’s writing manages to embrace both the light and the dark aspects of life." Additionally, Penguin Press's Helen Conford told the Bookseller: "We wanted something that spoke about the other qualities in the book. It's a children's story that also steps outside children's and people aren't used to seeing Dahl in that way." She continued: "[There is] a lot of ill feeling about it, I think because it's such a treasured book and a book which isn't really a 'crossover book'" As she acknowledged: "People want it to remain as a children's book."
The New Yorker describes what it calls this "strangely but tellingly misbegotten" cover design thusly: "The image is a photograph, taken from a French fashion shoot, of a glassy-eyed, heavily made-up little girl. Behind her sits, a mother figure, stiff and coiffed, casting an ominous shadow. The girl, with her long, perfectly waved platinum-blond hair and her pink feather boa, looks like a pretty and inert doll—" The article continues: "And if the Stepford daughter on the cover is meant to remind us of Veruca Salt or Violet Beauregarde, she doesn't: those badly behaved squirts are bubbling over with rude life." Moreover, writes Talbot, "The Modern Classics cover has not a whiff of this validation of childish imagination; instead, it seems to imply a deviant adult audience."
And this leads me once more to Eudora Welty before I go on to a certain children's book I have in mind, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Knopf). [...] I was compelled to go back once again to her fine little monograph Place in Fiction. In this small book Miss Welty sets forth her belief not only in the power of place in any created work but in the ways in which place exerts control over character portrayal, of how exceedingly important is explicitness of detail and a steady lucidity and uncompromise of purpose. She speaks further of how place has deeply to do with three kinds of goodness in fiction: the goodness and validity of the raw material, the goodness of the writing, and the goodness of the writer himself, his worth as a human being. And this worth is always mercilessly revealed in his writing, because there we discover his roots or lack of them, the place where he stands, his point of view or lack of it.
[...]Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (together with Charlotte's Web [Harper]) is probably the book most read aloud by those teachers who have no idea, apparently, what other books they might read to the children. Charlie, again along with Charlotte's Web, is always at the top of the best sellers among children's books, put there by fond aunts and grandmothers and parents buying it as the perfect gift, knowing no better. And I do think this a most curious coupling: on the one hand, one of the most tasteless books ever written for children; and on the other, one of the best. We are reminded of Ford Madox Ford's observation that only two classes of books are universal in their appeal: the very best and the very worst.
[...] [Charlie] is like candy (the chief excitement and lure of Charlie) in that it is delectable and soothing while we are undergoing the brief sensory pleasure it affords but leaves us poorly nourished with our taste dulled for better fare. I think it will be admitted of the average TV show that goes on from week to week that there is no time, either from the point of view of production or the time allowed for showing, to work deeply at meaning or characterisation. All interest depends upon the constant, unremitting excitement of the turns of plot. And if character or likelihood of action – that is, inevitability – must be wrenched to fit the necessities of plot, there is no time to be concerned about this either by the director or by the audience. Nor will the tuned-in, turned-on, keyed-up television watcher give the superficial quality of the show so much as a second thought. He has been temporarily amused; what is there to complain about? And like all those nursing at the electronic bosom in McLuhan's global village (as he likes to call it), so everybody in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory is enclosed in its intoxicating confines forever: all the workers, including the little Oompa-Loompas brought over from Africa and, by the end of the book, Charlie and his entire family.
Eleanor Cameron's remarks on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the Horn Book may draw some fire upon her; it's always perilous to do anything to a best-seller but adulate it. My response to her October article is one of relief and hearty thanks. It is good to have an accurate diagnosis of one's vague feelings of unease, and to find that somebody else – especially a gentle and perceptive critic – has been feeling a bit queasy too.
That Mr Dahl's books have a very powerful effect on children is evident. Kids between 8 and 11 seem to be truly fascinated by them; one of mine used to finish Charlie and then start it right over from the beginning (she was subject to these fits for about two months at age 11). She was like one possessed while reading it, and for a while after reading she was, for a usually amiable child, quite nasty. Apparently the books, with their wish-fulfilment, their slam-bang action, and their ethical crassness, provide a genuine escape experience, a tiny psychological fugue, very like that provided by comic books.
I would dearly like to see Mrs. Cameron trying to read Little Women, or Robinson Crusoe for that matter, to a class of today's children. The lady is completely out of touch with reality. She would be howled out of the classroom. She also says, "I should like to travel up and down the country going to elementary schools and saying to all the teachers: Find out about the good children’s books.” I myself would like very much to hear what the teachers’ replies would be if the patronizing, all-knowing Mrs. Cameron ever tried to do this.