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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Roald Dahl

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions & Essay Topics

full title ·  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

author · Roald Dahl; illustrations by Quentin Blake

type of work · Novel

genre · Children’s fiction

language · English

time and place written · Buckinghamshire England, 1964

date of first publication · June 1964

publisher · Alfred A. Knopf (first American edition, 1964); Allen & Unwim (first British edition, 1967); Alfred A. Knopf (revised edition, 1973)

narrator · Third person. The anonymous narrator is sympathetic to the heroes, Charlie and Mr. Wonka, and critical of the other children.

point of view · The narrator speaks in the third person with a subjective voice. The narrator follows Charlie’s point of view and speaks on his behalf, announcing his hardships and criticizing his competition.

tone · Light-hearted and humorous, even in its treatment of difficult topics

tense · Past

setting (time) · Present

setting (place) · An unnamed city; a small wooden house on the edge of a great city; a fabled chocolate factory

protagonist · Charlie Bucket

major conflict · Five children who have found golden tickets compete to see who will take over Mr. Wonka’s chocolate factory.

rising action · The newspaper announces that the Wonka chocolate factory will reopen its doors to the public and welcome the holders of five golden tickets hidden in Wonka chocolate bars. A race ensues to recover the golden tickets, the first four of which go to children who have serious character flaws. Charlie desperately hopes he will find a golden ticket.

climax · Charlie’s father loses his job, pushing his already poor family to the brink of starvation. Charlie finds a dollar bill in the street and, before handing it over to his mother, treats himself to two chocolate bars. One of the bars contains the fifth golden ticket.

falling action · Mr. Wonka’s factory exposes the character flaws of each of the other four children on the journey, with temporarily disastrous results for them. When only Charlie remains, Mr. Wonka congratulates him for winning the entire factory for himself and his family.

themes · Good things come in small packages; poverty vs. wealth; what goes around comes around

motifs · Vice; punishment; absurdity

symbols · The chocolate factory; golden ticket; glass elevator

foreshadowing

 · Charlie’s selflessness foreshadows his future fortune. If anyone should have reason to complain, it is Charlie. He is hungry, malnourished, and cold. And every day he walks by the opulence of the chocolate factory. Yet he never utters a single complaint. His soldierly attitude foreshadows his fortune, especially in light of the misfortune to befall the other children based on their characters.
 · In their individual interviews with reporters on finding their golden tickets, each child foreshadows his or her own downfall from a vice: Augustus’s sloth, Veruca’s greed, Violet’s gum chewing, Mike’s obsession with TV. Charlie’s humility and generosity foreshadow his success. Mr. Wonka foreshadows the destiny of each child when he explains that he cannot abide ugliness in his chocolate factory. The ugliness of each child, except Charlie, has been well established. Therefore Mr. Wonka will not be able to abide the other children. As a result, those children will have to be removed from the factory.

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