By: L. Maksoud
As a child, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory gave me nightmares. Just the thought of going to a chocolate factory electrified me, the thought of opening a bar of chocolate and revealing a golden ticket would make me daydream. But for many different reasons, my three-year-old mind could never go to sleep after watching the movie.
Today, I’ve grown even more terrified of it. All of children that visit the factory are eliminated through intricate traps one-by-one. However, one of them makes it out, and ends up becoming the madman's protégé. Throughout the movie, Wonka, the owner of the factory tells the audience that the children are alright.
The first theory, is that each of the children: Violet, Augustus, Veruca, and Mike all represent one of the deadly sins, and Willy Wonka is trying to kill them. The first one to be extinguished from the tour of the delicious factory is Augustus Gloop. He is the embodiment of gluttony, the greed of over-eating, which ends up being the cause of his near-death experience. For those of you who haven’t watched the movie, which I deem to be few. Augustus drinks out of a chocolate river, falls into it and drowns because he doesn't know how to swim. While Willy Wonka tells us he is okay, the boy is then pulled through a extreme suction tube which transports the goods in the river.
The next victim, Veruca, falls into a trap because she is lazy. She is bratty and wants everything from her father. Especially golden chocolate eggs. Just like her ‘friend' she ends up falling into the hole where the golden eggs fall into, and we never hear her impact on the ground bellow.
Violet, who is greed, takes everything she wants, steals it even. In the section of the factory where gum is made, Violet can’t resist her temptation and gets a piece of gum that has not yet been tested. The gum is supposed to replace three food courses, including a blueberry filled recipe as a desert. Everything seems to be going fine, however after a while she begins to blow up like a blueberry. Wonka plays it off like nothing is happening, even though Violet is turning violet.
The final victim, Mike, is a TV obsessed kid who represents pride. Following the fate of the others, by the end of the movie, he becomes the size of a small chocolate. At no point in the film do we hear what Wonka is saying to his servants, the Oompa Loompas. Consequently, we don’t know if he’s asking them to dispose of the children or to save them. Even though all of them show up alive in the end, we don’t know if those were the intentions of the madman.
Moreover, many believe that Charlie, the only kid who didn’t follow the pattern of the others, was also meant to follow the same path. This is because Wonka convinced him and his grandfather to drink a liquid that made them lighter than air, making them float up defenselessly towards a giant fan. In this scene, Wonka’s intentions to the kill them is clear. If it wasn’t for Charlie’s grandfather, who started to burp at the right time, no kids would survive.
The second and final theory suggests that the plot is based on a poem named Dante’s Inferno that talks about a man named Dante who travels through different stages of hell. In the poem, a man named Charon carries souls into their next life by crossing the river which separates the living from the deceased. In the first movie, Willy Wonka does almost the same, except he’s taking the children through a horrifying boat ride from the ‘real world’ to the inside of his factory. As they cruise through the chocolate river, Wonka states ‘Are the fires of Hell a-glowing, is the grisly reaper mowing’. As a child, I never realized what he meant.
In the next part of the poem, the poet talks about the ‘…nine circles of hell…’. These circles are each designed to punish a sinner, mentioned in the first theory. For example: the third circle of hell represents gluttonous people, who are degraded and are meant to live under cold rain.
Have these theories ruined your view of this childhood movie, or were you always scared of it like me?