Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Ronald Dahl
March 14, 2013
Cautionary Tale, background detail and misc notes about Ronald Dahl
Published in 1964
Dahl is considered one of most innovators writers in 21st century
Much of his childhood was unhappy
Rebelled against authority figures in childhood
After injured in Royal Air Force, changed his focus to writing
His Young 4-year old died, 7-year old died of measles, wife had a series of strokes
Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Chocolate Factory
Opposite side of this: exploration of childhood personality
He also believed they could RESPOND and CHANGE.
Omnipresent sense of cynicism, violence, and cruelty along Charlie’s heartwarming,
innocent perspective of the world around him.
Outside of his writing, Dahl was both an intriguing and contradictory figure – one of
more controversial writers of 20th century as well.
Linguistic craftsman – interested in the “delightfulness” of language
Sometimes Dahl is speaking directly to us, always stirring the pot, always complicating
the dialogue between adult and child, humorously aggressive, slightly unpredictable, and
all-the-while interested in finding some dynamic interaction between child and story
What lessons and to who?
Ronald Dahl (1916-1990)
-worked for shell oil in East Africa
-Joined the Royal Air Force during WWII
-Injured, was sent to work for the British embassy in Washington, DC
-began writing in DC
Charlie and the chocolate factory (1964)
-Dahl is a deliberate linguistic craftsman
-Style and story are interconnected
-Fantastical Elements – Elevator defies the laws of physics
-Factory is an outside world, nobody knows about it. Magical fantastical, secondary
-Shack the bucket’s live in enhances the magic, emphasis
-plays with puns, what we expect it to mean and what it does mean Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Ronald Dahl
March 14, 2013
Chocolate factory as a fantasy landscape.
Wonka’s eccentric clothes emphasize who he is. Sadistic sense of humor, eyes twinkling.
Enjoys and delights in the cruel responses, and when the children make choices that they
are forced to make.
Enchanted castles and fantasy seen through the grass, chocolate waterfall, soft minty
buttercups found at the end of the river.
Children that make the mistakes are either temporarily or permanently changed.
Becomes a course in survivor, rather than a happy outing
Discovering the dangers of their perfect world
Augutus Gloop – tries to drink the river
Veruca Salt – tries to grab a squirrel, grabbed and thrown down garbage chute
Pops gum into her mouth, three course meal, becomes a blueberry and rolled away
Mike Teevee – Television addict, insists on being transferred through television
chocolate, shrunk into a miniture.
Dahl’s plot given momentum through the spoilt brats – punishments received plays into
the quasi-sadistic natures.
Justifiable to punish them
Fifth child – Charlie – polar opposite, quiet, good, hero, given the chocolate factory,
because he doesn’t disobey Willy Wonka.
Not fully fleshed out – one dimensional, both rewarded and punished, moral outlook.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is an illustrated chapter book – such drawings interact
with the words in a distinctive way.
Spacing meant to interact with the characters, and the images on the page
Photos emphasize the normality, the simplicity of the Bucket family.
Dahl’s Narrative Conventions
Readers occupy the position where we are to sympathize with Charlie’s family at a safe
distance outside of the novel
Delighting child readers, capitials to emphasize the chocolate Page 18.
Punctualtion is meant ot develop the significance of the factory, develops excitement.
Enhances a larger than life aspect of the factory
Narration builds presentation, always stirring the plot, conspiring with the younger
Nonsense poetry – zaininess, Wonka is crazy, doesn’t make sense,
Ompa Lumpas offer nonsense poetry, nonsense words appealing to both adult and child
Invert the logic of words and authority – puns, alliterations, spoonerisms, deliberate
misuse of words, invents new worlds, two different words blended into one word. 111. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Ronald Dahl
March 14, 2013
151 – Descriptive phases for what each level is creating. WOnka’s candies have a
subversive threat to them, Exploding candies for your enemies, etc. Is Wonka sadistic?
What is the purpose of the candies he is making in this factory?
Can be seen as clever and cute, but have a threatening undercurrent.
Idea of the child – Dahl and his readers
Begins to point fingers at the parent, use of the parent, policing how to be a child.
“The parents are to blame for how horrible the children have become.”
Appealing to children through a twisted, dark sense of humor
Used his own children as gui