Charlie Bucket is an angelic boy who lives with his parents and grandparents in a small hovel. When Willy Wonka
, a reclusive businessman, announces a competition to allow five lucky children into his chocolate factory, Charlie wins one of the places against high odds
The other four children turn out to be deeply unpleasant: Augustus Gloop is a glutton, Veruca Salt is a Spoiled Brat
, Mike Teavee is obsessed with violent TV and Violet Beauregarde is a rude, pushy compulsive gum-chewer
- utterly obsessed with winning. Willy Wonka himself proves to be an eccentric inventor
, obsessed with confectionery.
The five children tour the factory
, a wonderland of bizarre and improbable inventions, but one by one the children suffer almost lethal karmic fates, each underscored by a moralising Crowd Song
from Wonka's Oompa-Loompas. When only Charlie
is left, Wonka reveals he was actually looking for an heir.
Perhaps Roald Dahl
's best-known work, this book is an excellent example of Adaptation Overdosed
, with several stage adaptations ranging from a non-musical play to an opera
(The Golden Ticket
), as well as a BBC radio play and a theme park ride. The following adaptations warrant their own pages:
The novel has a sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
, in which the elevator shoots into space, Wonka stops an invasion by shapeshifting aliens, and the grandparents get into trouble with a de-aging potion
. Unfortunately, Dahl was so disgusted at how the film of the first book turned out that he forbade any adaptations of the sequel (aside from a stage play).
This story — particularly the 1971 adaptation — is a stock parody
: Charlie and the Chocolate Parody
. It is also the Trope Namer
for The Wonka
: An eccentric authority figure whose success comes from their quirkiness (rather than in spite of it).
This story provides examples of:
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Many would find the bit about Wonka closing down due to industrial espionage to be over the top. Many would also be surprised to learn what a cutthroat industry candymaking really is.
- Author Filibuster: The Oompa Loompa songs, especially the one concerning TV. Doubles as Anvilicious.
- Author Tract: The ironic fates of nearly all the kids, and in particular the Mike Teevee speech.
- A Weighty Aesop: Augustus Gloop may count, thanks to his unfavorable portrayal.
- Big Labyrinthine Building: The factory; it has hundreds upon hundreds of rooms and corridors and it's clear that between the novel and its sequel the visitors are only privy to a tiny fraction of them thus far.
- Bowdlerise: The description of the Oompa-Loompas was altered in later editions to make the general concept less overtly racist.
- Cloud Cuckoo Land: The titular factory.
- Competition Coupon Madness: The Golden Tickets.
- Cool Old Guy: Grandpa Joe.
- Daddy's Girl: Veruca Salt, whose doting father has made her into a little monster.
- Elaborate Underground Base: Most of the factory is underground, which allows for its immense size.
- Fat Bastard: Augustus Gloop.
- Fun Personified: Willy Wonka himself, of course.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The snozzberry. In My Uncle Oswald, by the same author... well, let us just say that snozzberry does not refer to a fruit.
- Gone Horribly Right: Hair Toffee. It does grow hair - but way too much.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: the "three course dinner" gum is either this or the former, depending on how much one trusts Willy Wonka.
- Happily Ever After
- Hollywood Atlas
- Infinite Supplies
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Virtually all of the processes in Wonka's factory: "If television breaks an image down into little bits and sends them through the air, why not a bar of chocolate?" Then again, Wonka's nonsense explanations are usually for the benefit of the candidate children, most of whom he doesn't trust at all.
- Karma Houdini: What exactly did Veruca Salt get compared to the other kids? The scare of her life, and very dirty, but compared to the fate of the others (Slimmed down, stretched out, turned purple) she really didn't get what she deserved to be easily the worst of the kids, just something a bath would fix.
- A bath and an extensive therapy course. Consider the scene: she is forcibly held down (by squirrels, whom she before found "adorable") for quite some time, touched on shoulder and face while helpless, has her head patted to determine whether she is "good nut" (possibly with the thought that if yes, the squirels will attempt to crack her head), and then thrown down the chute. Does This Remind You of Anything? Such an experience can scar someone permanently. Especially someone who never before ran into any bad situations.
- Also consider that she fell into the oven, and must have thought "Oh Crap, I will be burned now!". Psychic trauma is all but guaranteed after such experience.
- Also note that when the news of Charlie's getting the factory gets out, the other parents will be devastated by their children losing out, and the kids will have to live with that for the rest of their lives. Veruca's father has his own factory.
- In her case, it was really more her parents that needed to learn a lesson about spoiling her so much. The 2005 film particularly makes it clear that she's not going to get her way so easily anymore.
Veruca: (sees Willy Wonka, Grandpa Joe, and Charlie riding in the glass elevator above them as she and her father walk out of the factory covered in garbage) Daddy, I want a glass elevator.
Mr. Salt: The only thing you're getting today is a bath. And that's final.
Veruca: (angrily) But I want it!
- Also, Augustus Gloop being slimmed down is arguably a good thing, though the experience would probably be very painful and his resulting body shape is questionable.
- Of course, you could call Willy Wonka the biggest Karma Houdini.
- Karmic Death: Sort of. While Wonka claims none of the children die, each one (except Charlie) is taken out in this manner. The end of the book shows the naughty kids walking out of the factory, albeit considerably changed based on their punishments. Not every adaptation sticks with this, however...
- Killer Rabbit: The squirrels in the Nut-Sorting Room. They are adorable... and if you get too close, they'll catch you and throw you down to the incinerator if they judge you to be a bad nut.
- Level Ate: The Chocolate Room, in which the entirety of the meadow-esque landscape is actually candy.
- Meaningful Name: Lampshaded by Wonka with Veruca, who was named after a plantar wart.
- And then there's Veruca's hoity toity mother, Angina.
- Million to One Chance
- Mythology Gag
- Several Wonka products appear in other Roald Dahl books, notably The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, which repeats several descriptions word for word from this one.
- That well-known fruit, the snozzberry, is also mentioned in an earlier Dahl book, Sometime Never: A Fable for Supermen. (We pass lightly over My Uncle Oswald, in which "snozzberry" ...doesn't refer to a fruit.)
- In the American stage musical adaptation Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka, the kids in the candy store at the beginning are named James, Matilda, Sophie, Danny, Alfie, and Billy.
- No OSHA Compliance: The factory itself is riddled with unbelievably dangerous areas, from a chocolate river with no safety rail that leads to a grinding machine via pipes, a gaping hole in the middle of the nut-sorting room that leads straight to a furnace, and a glass elevator that smashes through the roof (to name a few).
- Not Drawn to Scale: Admittedly, it could also be Bizarrchitecture.
- Pinball Protagonist: Charlie. The only thing he actually does that affects the plot is buy the chocolate bar with the Golden Ticket; otherwise he's pretty much just jostled along by the story. Most adaptations, including the two films and the 2013 stage musical, add plot complications/twists to rectify this.
- Pretty in Mink: Veruca Salt.
- Pun: The Square Candies That Look Round; they're square, but if you enter their room they'll look 'round to see who's there. The buildup to this joke takes up several pages.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: The Oompa-Loompas shout during their song for Mike: "THEY... USED... TO... READ!!!!!!!"
- Seven Deadly Sins: At least four: Augustus is Gluttony, Violet is Pride, Veruca is Greed, and Mike is Sloth, creating some convenient Aesops.
- Serious Business: The pursuit of the Golden Tickets.
- Spoiled Brat: Veruca Salt is the most obvious example, but the other three naughty kids have been spoiled in their own ways, with their parents indulging and even encouraging their respective vices.
- Teleporter Accident: Mike's attempt to become the first person transmitted by television results him being shrunk to a few inches high.
- Transformation Ray: The TV ray that zaps Mike.
- The Villain Sucks Song: The Oompa-Loompas sing one for each of the kids except Charlie, although they don't really count as villains. Augustus's fits the mold the most: Violet's and Mike's songs are anecdotes about gum-chewing and TV watching. Veruca's is more a disclaimer that her parents should have some of the blame. Augustus Gloop's song, however, is a storm of insults directly at the boy.