Themes and Characters
Charlie Bucket, the central character in the book, is not really a character at all. Aside from being a well-behaved boy from a poor family, Charlie has no distinguishing qualities and no distinct personality. He is, as his name suggests, an empty container, a shell waiting to be filled. It is the reader who fills in the outline by becoming Charlie. By providing a character who stands for the reader, Dahl propels us into the story in a very direct way.
The other children are more symbols than characters. Augustus Gloop, an obese boy, symbolizes gluttony; Veruca Salt, a spoiled rich girl, embodies selfishness; Violet Beauregarde, a gumchewing chatterbox, exemplifies mindlessness; and Mike Teavee, a television addict, represents idleness. These children have no characteristics other than the behavior flaws that they represent. When they are punished for their sins, the reader can take a righteous pleasure in their fate without feeling pangs of pity.
Another set of characters that figure in the story are the Oompa-Loompas, tiny people who live and work in the factory. In the original 1964 version of the book, they have black skin and are said to be pygmies from Africa. After critics accused Dahl of racism, he changed the portrait of the Oompa-Loompas. In the revised edition, published in 1973, they are no longer black. They have long, wavy hair and come from an imaginary place called Loompaland. Besides working in the factory, at various points...
(The entire section is 474 words.)