Study Guide

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

By Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Introduction

Some things never change. In 1964, when Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was first published, the greatest thing imaginable was a gallivanting around a factory devoted entirely to making chocolate and other sweets. And guess what? Over half a century later, that's still the greatest thing imaginable. Don't you agree?

You're probably no stranger to this story about a poor little boy who tours Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory. It's probably Roald Dahl's most well-known book, but that might just be thanks to the famous 1971 movie version, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Unfortunately, Dahl and the movie did not have a good relationship – he wasn't happy with the casting, the focus on Willy Wonka instead of Charlie, or the many changes made to the script after he wrote it. Dahl passed away in 1990, but we wonder what he would have thought of the 2005 movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It's pretty much un-American not to like a Johnny Depp movie. But to be fair, Roald Dahl wasn't American (he was British), so the world will never know.

Roald Dahl may not have liked the movie, but a lot of people didn't like his book either. There were a few unhappy reactions to the original version, mostly because of his portrayal of the Oompa-Loompas. In the final version of his story, these little guys have "rosy-white" skin and "golden-brown" hair (17.53), and come from Loompaland (natch). In the original version, though, they were from Africa, and had never seen a white man before. Dahl didn't intend to be racist – in fact, the Oompa-Loompas are the good guys in the story – but he did understand the criticisms and so, in the end, he made the change.

Of course, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory stands out for reasons other than the movies and the Oompa-Loompas, too. Most importantly, in most of Dahl's work, adults are the bad guys, but in this one, it's the kids who cause the trouble (and boy do they learn their lessons the hard way). Also, all of Dahl's books involve sweets in some way, but this one is a sugar high on paper. As you read, you can almost taste his concoctions, and get this: you can taste his concoctions. The Willy Wonka Candy Company exists. Nerds, anyone?

What is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory About and Why Should I Care?

What do The Karate Kid, the Mighty Ducks, and Charlie Bucket all have in common? We love them? Yes. But more importantly, they're underdogs. Underdogs who come out on top. How many times in your life have you felt like maybe you wouldn't succeed, like you couldn't do it? Charlie reminds us that even when we've hit rock bottom – walking around hungry and cold – there's always hope.

Roald Dahl's Charlie is the David to a million different Goliaths. He's poor, he's hungry, he's small. But he ends up the owner of the greatest chocolate factory in the world, all because of a little luck, the generosity of Willy Wonka, and, most importantly, the fact that he's a great kid. So if you've ever felt like you just couldn't win – if you've been beat by a bully or hit a brick wall – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory just might give you the hope you need to stick it out. Who knows, maybe you'll come out on top.

Oh, and also, it's a book about candy. Clearly that's worth caring about.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Resources

Websites

Taste for Yourself
The official website of the Wonka Chocolate candy company, home of some of our favorites like Nerds, FunDip, and SweeTarts.

Charlie on a Console
Yep, they had video games back in the 1980s. Take a look at those graphics!

Too Bad There's No Smell-o-Vision
This is a slightly newer video game version of the book. What do you think the goal is?

Movie or TV Productions

Mmm, Johnny Depp
The 2005 movie has the same name as the book, but the Oompa-Loompas have way cooler outfits than plain ol' deerskin.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
That's right: Willy Wonka is the star of this movie, adapted in 1971. Gene Wilder is just as dotty as Mr. Wonka should be.

Historical Documents

Before it was a Book
Check out a summary of the earlier drafts of the book, complete with extra characters and plot points. Pretty cool stuff, courtesy of the Roald Dahl Museum

Roald Writes a Letter
When a class wrote Roald Dahl a letter to ask him about the protagonist of his short story collection, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, he responded in typical Roald Dahl fashion: quirkily. We wish he were still around to tell us just how old Willy Wonka is, and why he wears green pants.

Remembering Roald Dahl
The New York Times published his obituary in 1990. The world is a little less sugary without him, that's for sure.

Video

Pure Imagination
The famous song from the 1971 film adaptation, in full (the Oompa-Loompas aren't the only ones who sing!).

The World-Famous Oompa-Loompa Song
The Oompa-Loompas perform their trademark song in the 1971 movie.

A Fond Farewell to Augustus Gloop
Check out this rather strange scene from the 2005 film adaptation.

Top Chef Recreates the Chocolate Room
On Top Chef: Just Desserts, the contestants were challenged to recreate Willy Wonka's chocolate room, and got a chance to meet the actors who played the children in the 1971 film. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at all the work that went into creating that challenge.

Audio

Here Comes Charlie
A recording of someone reading the first chapter of <em>Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. </em>With a British accent, no less!

Mr. Dahl, Poet
While it's not a reading of <em>Charlie and the Chocolate Factory</em>, we think it's pretty cool to listen to the man himself read some of his verse.

Getting into His Head
Here, Roald Dahl tells an interviewer how and why he became a writer.

Images

First Edition
Here's the cover of the first edition, published in 1964. We kind of like it.

Little Oompa-Loompas
Posing with Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) from the 1971 movie. Is this how you pictured them?

Top Chef: Just Desserts Makes the Chocolate Room
Here's a shot of the judges of <em>Top Chef: Just Desserts</em> enjoying the final product of the Chocolate Room Challenge. Yum.

The Man Behind the Fantasy
Our personal favorite photo of Roald Dahl, mainly because of the adorable dogs.