Food in Literature: A Book Review on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) is a children’s novel by the famous author Roald Dahl. As the name of the novel suggests, chocolate is the food theme running through the plot of the novel. The purpose of this paper is to give a review of the book, with emphasis on the relevance of chocolate to the social environment and the story development. This paper will also include a technical and historical review of chocolate, and also address some of the more specific issues relating to chocolate in light of Dahl’s novel.
2.0 Plot Summary
Mr. Willy Wonka is the eccentric owner of the greatest chocolate factory in the world. Following a security breach by spies from rival companies, Willy Wonka decided to close the factory from outsiders. It was not until ten years later did Willy Wonka decide to allow five lucky children, who happened to retrieve a golden ticket from under his chocolate wrappings, to enter the factory and receive a private tour from Mr Wonka himself. Among the lucky children were Augustus Gloop, Veruna Salt, Violet Beauregarde, and Mike Teavee: all of which unworthy and spoilt children. In contrast, the poor and virtuous Charlie Bucket, whose dream was to enter Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, recovered the fifth and last ticket. Along with his Grandpa Joe, Charlie Bucket sets out on the adventure of a lifetime.
Charlie and Grandpa Joe were amazed at the unbelievable sight, sounds and smells inside the chocolate factory, a marvelous world with a chocolate waterfall and edible grass, and even a boat ride down the chocolate river in a yacht made out of giant pink boiled sweet. Whilst Charlie was appreciative and grateful to Willy Wonka for the wonders he encountered, the other four children revealed their character flaws during the tour. They were punished and ejected from the factory one-by-one: each time followed with a song by the factory workers, the Oompa-Loompas. Charlie, who was humble and respectful throughout, was the only child who remained. He was in for another wonderful surprise: he has won the ‘contest’ without knowing it and he will become the new owner of the entire chocolate factory!
Thus in Dahl’s story, even though the world may initially seem unfair (Charlie was very poor compared with the other children), everyone got exactly what he or she deserves by the end of the magical story. The children who were spoilt and greedy were taught a harsh lesson for the better. In contrast, good things eventually came to Charlie, who remained kind and patient and never complained about his grim situation. He received more than his wildest imagination: all the chocolate he could ever dream of.
3.0 Chocolate: the Underlying Food Theme
This wonderful tale has mesmerized children around the world for more that 40 years. Chocolate is the driving theme behind the story. Dahl went to great lengths in his story depicting the sheer frenzy of the people towards chocolate and Willy Wonka’s factory. The whole world was crazed about the golden ticket contest: in one case a gangster robbed a bank in order to buy Wonka bars! Charlie, who would receive a chocolate bar for each birthday, was also obsessed with the golden ticket that he bought two chocolate bars, even though his poor family could certainly use the money for food. The Indian Prince Pondicherry also built his palace out of chocolate, which eventually melted on a hot day and the prince would wake up in a chocolate swimming pool. As the story went on and the marvels of the chocolate factory were being unveiled, the strong theme of chocolate would become more evident and entrenched in the minds of the reader: so much so that it becomes difficult for readers to resist the temptation to stock up on chocolate bars themselves!
It may be noted that Dahl did not conjure up the idea of Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory...
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