The eccentric owner of the Wonka chocolate factory. Mr.Wonka is the most renowned candy maker in the world and an endless combination of opposing parts. He is old but filled with a boundless energy. He is physically small, but his persona is larger than life. He is also both charming and insensitive. His decision to open his factory to five lucky children is actually a calculated ploy to find the perfect child to take over his factory. He is looking for a properly obsequious child to whom he can teach all the secrets of his factory. Charlie Bucket is that boy.
The protagonist of the novel. Charlie is unassuming and respectful toward everyone in his life. He is undernourished but refuses to ever take an extra portion of food because it would deprive another member of his family. He must walk by Mr. Wonka’s factory every day on his way to school and smell the tantalizing smell of chocolate as his stomach grumbles. He is almost always cold because he does not have an adequate jacket. Even though he has every reason to complain, he never does. Charlie is exactly the kind of child that Mr. Wonka wants.
Charlie’s paternal grandfather. Grandpa Joe spends all his time in bed with the other three Bucket grandparents. He is extremely imaginative and fun loving. He realizes a return of his childish energy when Charlie finds the golden ticket. He thinks Mr. Wonka’s idea to send out golden tickets is a marketing stroke of genius, and he continues to think Mr. Wonka is brilliant while the other parents think he is mad. Grandpa Joe is kind and loving and also sensible. He is Charlie’s greatest friend and confidant.
A fat boy who loves nothing but eating. Augustus is rude and insubordinate in his never-ending quest to fill his own face. His parents choose to indulge him rather than listen to his whining. He suffers for his greed in the factory: while sucking from the chocolate river, he falls in and is sucked up by one of the super pipes. He comes out changed on the other side, as evidenced by his new thin body.
A spoiled brat. Veruca demands anything she wants and throws tantrums until her parents meet her demands. She is mean and completely self-involved, and her parents always acquiesce to her wishes. Veruca’s impetuousness causes her trouble at the factory. She demands to own one of Wonka’s trained squirrels, but when she marches in to claim it, it deems her a “bad nut” and sends her down the garbage chute. Mingled with garbage, she comes out changed at the end of the story.
An avid gum chewer. Violet’s attempt to beat a gum-chewing record completely consumes her. At the factory her gum-chewing antics become her downfall when she grabs an experimental piece of gum against Mr. Wonka’s advice. She eagerly chews the gum and turns into a giant blueberry. After being juiced by Oompa-Loompas, she leaves the factory changed.
A boy who cares only for television. The more guns and violence on a show, the more Mike likes it. Mike is slightly more complex than the other bad children in that he is smart enough to realize when Mr. Wonka is lying to him. Still, his attempts to get answers to his questions go completely unheeded. At the factory he wants nothing more than to check out the chocolate television room. Once there he spies the opportunity to be on television himself. Without regard for his own safety, he engineers a filming of himself and ends up shrinking down to a couple of inches. The Oompa-Loompas stretch him out to twice his normal height in the end.
Fun-loving dwarves hailing from Loompaland. Mr. Wonka’s diminutive work force feasts on cacao beans and performs all of the work in the Wonka chocolate factory. They also enjoy dancing, beating drums, and singing songs about what happens to bad children.
Charlie’s hard-working father. Mr. Bucket works tirelessly to provide for his family, which includes two sets of grandparents. In spite of his efforts, Mr. Bucket barely earns enough money for his family to survive.
Charlie’s mother. Mrs. Bucket worries constantly about her son. She unfailingly tries to give Charlie her portion of a meal, which he always refuses. She is extremely giving in her efforts to take care of the four invalided grandparents with whom she lives.
Charlie’s paternal grandmother. Grandma Josephine, like her fellow grandparents, spends all her time in bed. She loves Charlie and is quick to judge others.
Charlie’s maternal grandfather. Grandpa George is pessimistic and terse. He does not seem as judgmental as the grandmothers and clearly loves Charlie.
Charlie’s maternal grandmother. She is the mirror image of Grandma Josephine. She too is very quick to judge others.
Augustus’s parents. The Gloops are moronic and indulgent of their son’s overeating. Mrs. Gloop is proud of her son’s appetite and thinks it better that he eat than be a nuisance.
Veruca’s parents. Mr. and Mrs. Salt are at their daughter’s beck and call. Whenever she screams and cries they give in to her every demand. Mr. Salt goes so far as to divert his entire factory from shelling peanuts to shelling candy bars in order to get Veruca the golden ticket she demands.
Violet’s parents. The Beauregardes are weak and ineffectual. They let their daughter talk back to them and ignore her insults.
Mike’s parents. Mr. and Mrs. Teavee are hands-off parents. They allow the television to parent their son.
Wonka’s main competitors. Fickelgruber, Prodnose, and Slugworth each allegedly planted spies at the Wonka factory in order to steal Wonka’s candy-making secrets. The thefts put Mr. Wonka out of business for a long time. One day, Mr. Wonka’s factory mysteriously reopened, though no one has ever been seen going in or out since.