Review: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” & “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator” by Roald Dahl

For the love of books

The most satirical of all Roald Dahl’s novels for children are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.

In addition to his intense scrutiny of many prevalent issues in society, the author completes his scintillating mockery of humanity’s vices in his caustic poetry, which is more numerous in these two particular novels.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is about Willy Wonka, his marvelous chocolate factory, and a very good boy named Charlie Bucket.  The novel’s hero, Charlie, is a boy living in extreme poverty with the rest of his family.  Against his noble main character, Dahl depicts stereotypes of bad behavior in four other children and their parents.  Obesity, gluttony, gum-chewing, and overindulgence are some of the sins that Dahl vehemently discusses.  While virtue is shown to be its own reward in Charlie’s case, vice is the other children’s punishment.  Willy Wonka himself is the eccentric inventor, magician, and genius who exacts justice from his despicable visitors.

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator continues Charlie’s life with his family in Wonka’s factory.  Of course, the author brings new characters and subjects to his satirical stage, and laughter echoes throughout as his victims are carefully chosen.  The government of the United States of America is ridiculed, especially the competence and intelligence of the President himself.  Space travel is humorously questioned, and aliens are darkly scoffed at in the appearance of the fierce Vermicious Knids.  Dahl’s version of a youth elixir and its effects simultaneously ponders mortality and human existence.  The author’s creation of Charlie Bucket’s world is an elixir in itself for one’s imagination, and Dahl’s satire is pungent in its approach and its extent.

Original review: Part 4: The best of Roald Dahl in children’s literature

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