Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

by: Roald Dahl

Mr. Willy Wonka

The eccentric owner of the world-famous Wonka chocolate factory. Along with his eccentric behavior, Mr. Wonka also has a benevolent side. The mystery workers operating his chocolate factory after the reopening are called Oompa-Loompas. The Oompa-Loompas hail from Loompaland, where they are the defenseless prey of hungry creatures like hornswogglers, snozzwangers, and whandoodles until Mr. Wonka rescues them. He brings the malnourished Oompa-Loompas back to his factory where they are allowed to eat their favorite food—cacao beans—in unlimited quantities and live in complete safety in exchange for running the factory. Mr. Wonka treats the Oompa-Loompas like children, and, in return, they treat him as a benevolent caretaker. Mr. Wonka further demonstrates his affinity for children and wariness of adults by choosing a child to take over his factory. The child he seeks is humble, respectful, and willing to run his factory exactly how Mr. Wonka runs it himself.

Though benevolent, Mr. Wonka’s character is not beyond reproach. His treatment of the Oompa-Loompas is paternalistic, and his desire to mold a child into a second version of himself is narcissistic. Furthermore, Mr. Wonka is unwilling to accept anyone’s foibles. He can be extremely demanding and judgmental. The four children who do not win the grand prize clearly disgust Mr. Wonka. He is short with each of them—he acts as if he invited each of them simply to prove the virtuosity of Charlie. The humble and gracious Charlie is everything Mr. Wonka is looking for.