The Symbolism of Satan in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Senior year AP Lit final Mini-Thesis that I will perfect one of these days (I was 17 when I wrote this, wow!) Probably could have been written better though.
PLEASE NOTE THIS IS WRITTEN BASED OFF OF THE BOOK AND NOT THE MOVIE (both are very, very different!)
Willy Wonka is easily depicted as an eccentric candy inventor trying to leave his legacy to a very lucky child in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but surely there is a deeper meaning to this notorious character. Wonka has been represented in text and film in various ways, but each share common persona, such as his oddity and his control of the factory and Oompa-loompas, which can easily be seen as a representation towards the devil. Looking specifically at Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this paper elucidates the theory that Willy Wonka is a symbol of Satan in which all the children fall to his temptation.
Willy Wonka is a symbol of Satan in which he “is in charge of this entire world of his”. (Religious Analysis of Willy Wonka). Wonka lives in seclusion from the entire world in a giant, magical, mostly underground factory; “…but down here, underneath the ground, I’ve got all the space I want” (Dahl 62). He controls the actions of his workers as well as anything and everything that transpires in his world. Satan is said to have taken “on a virtual omnipresence and omnificence. He is always available, always eager to mislead and entice every single person to commit sin” (Kelley 300). Through his ability to know all as well as control all, he is the ruler of his underground sanctuary; “He is the person responsible for the downfall of the human race” (Kelley 212). To better put it, Wonka relates to Satan through his control of the factory and his ability, just like Satan, to “tempt us in any way he wants” (Kelley 301).
Willy Wonka relates mostly to Satan through his ability to tempt in any way he wishes; “In Christianity, one of Satan’s many names in the Tempter” (JSTOR 1).The first sight of temptation is seen early in the book when he releases a letter that states the importance of five golden tickets; “These lucky five will be shown around personally by me, and they will be allowed to see all the secrets and magic of my factory…” (Dahl 20). The golden ticket not only sparked greed and envy in the world, it revealed the morality and desperation of young Charlie Bucket which distinguished him from the rest.
Augustus Gloop is the first to fall to Wonka’s temptation inside of the factory. Augustus’s major sin is Gluttony as seen in the line, “He eats so many candy bars a day that it was almost impossible for him not to find one. Eating is his hobby…” (Dahl 22). Readers can see that Augustus Gloop is so easily tempted by the wonders of the factory that it quickly led to his tragedy. Wonka tempted him by saying, “And of course they are all eatable!”(Dahl 66). Therefore, Wonka ultimately tempts Augustus with the frothy, chocolate river. The distinction of this tragedy is Wonka’s humor and calmness; “…Just imagine it! Augustus-flavored chocolate-coated Gloop! No one would buy it” (Dahl 76). Readers can clearly see that Wonka already knew Augustus’s fate which is revealed when the oompa-loompas begin to sing about the sins of the young boy.
Veruca Salt’s major sins are greed and envy, “Where’s my Golden Ticket! I want my Golden Ticket!” (Dahl 25). This can ultimately be seen by the world and Wonka plays off of it. Wonka tempts her by simply having something that no one else can have; squirrels that can sort nuts. Readers see her greed through her demands for the small animals through her commands to her parents seen on page 111 of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
“Hey, Mummy!” Shouted Veruca salt suddenly, “I’ve decided I want a squirrel! Get me one of those Squirrels!”
“Don’t be silly, sweetheart,” Said Mrs. Salt, “These all belong to Mr. Wonka.”
“I don’t care about that!” Shouted Veruca, “I want one. All I’ve got at home is two dogs and four cats and six bunny rabbits…I want a squirrel!”
She is greedy, demanding, and spoiled. Due to Wonka’s omniscient persona, she is taken to a room where her demands and wants lead her down a garbage chute. He tempts her all too easily and, like Satan, easily deceives her parents to follow her down the chute by saying, “She may still be stuck in the chute, and below the entrance hole…all you’ll have to do is go pull her up again (Dahl 114). He, once again, stays calm as the parents fall down the chute as a symbol of falling to Satan’s chicanery.
“All Right, Mother, Keep your hair on!” (Dahl 31) were the words of young Violet Beauregarde who is defiant and disrespectful towards her parents. She obviously loves to chew gum and with this combination of passion and insolence, Wonka manipulated the girl to chew the gum that would alter her forever by saying “I would rather you didn’t take it” (Dahl 95). He, again, remains calm and witty as her parents panic at the sight of the growing daughter. Like Satan, Wonka already knew Violet’s fate inside his world. He knew she could easily be influenced to fall to temptation by one thing; gum.
Mike Teavee “Was seated before an enormous television set, with his eyes glued to the screen, and he was watching a film in which one bunch of gangsters was shooting up another…” (Dahl 33). Obviously, readers can see that Mike’s sin is violence and anger. He yells at all authority as if he is superior and he is dressed in pistols and weapons. This is the last child to fall to the temptation of Mr. Wonka. Wonka leads the remaining people through passage after passage until they enter the T. V. Room where Mike seems to stand in amazement at the sight of a chocolate bar being sent through televisions. By saying not to go through the machine, Wonka has already coaxed the nine-year old to travel through the set. Wonka shows his emotion by stating, “I do hope that no part of him gets left behind” (Dahl 132). This is to strike emotion and fear into the remaining visitors. Wonka, here, relates to Satan by making the chaos both external and internal because, “… the temptation of the Devil… are first internal and then external and highly visible” (Kelley 301). Mr. Wonka has full control of every action and emotion in the room.
The Oompa-Loompas, too, fell for Wonka’s temptation which forced them to forever live and work for Wonka almost as if they signed their soul to the Devil. Wonka, like Satan, played off their pain, needs, wants and suffering. He offers them their greatest desire and asks for their company in return. In fact, he reveals this to the children by stating, “And so, my dear children, as soon as I discovered that the Oompa-Loompas were crazy for this particular food… I said ‘Look here, if you and all your people will come back to my country and live in my factory, you can have all the cacao beans you want…You can gorge yourself silly on them!”(Dahl 70). The Oompa-Loompas become the symbol of demons.
Throughout the book, Readers see the workers are clever pranksters that bow down to Wonka’s every command. Like the Oompa-Loompas, “Demons can however directly manipulate the physical side of humans…and with the contents of their sense memory and sense-imagination they can… stimulate their victims to emotions of lust, anger, and so on” (Kelley 301). With the approval of Wonka, the workers are the ones that hold the power to change and alter the appearances of the children that fell to temptation such as putting Violet into the juicer to make her thin again but leaving her purple.
Charlie Bucket is the only child that does not fall into one of Wonka’s trap. He was distinguished as different from the other children in the very beginning. Throughout the whole tour, Grandpa Joe repeats, “Don’t let go of my hand, Charlie” (Dahl 62). This symbolizes that Charlie holds on tight to the virtue in his life instead of following the behavior of Wonka and the other guests. He is the lucky child that gets to take power from Wonka in the end. Charlie can be depicted as “Christ sent to save the Oompa-Loompas from Damnation, Torment, and Eternal; Servitude” (“Religious Analysis of “Willy Wonka”). His resistance of temptation gains him and his family security, comfort, and food by taking over the factory.
Willy Wonka is a cunning, manipulative man that is not often seen to be as Satan. Like Satan, he has full control and brings curiosity and trickery to those who are easily influenced. The Oompa-Loompas are a symbol of demons. They work constantly in hot climate in the factory that easily represents hell. Though there is a moral to this story, it is not too common to depict Wonka as a Satan-like power or Charlie as a Christ-like figure but surely the evidence is there.