Talking about Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory during Lent seems cruel, especially if you gave up sweets.
But the lessons that Willy and Charlie teach us go far beyond food.
This penitential season is the perfect time to revisit the classic tale, or introduce your kids to the story for the first time. This Lent, Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory can teach anyone all about the seven deadly sins.
Give up television for Lent? Don’t worry, there’s a book.
Have you ever stopped and really thought about how the sins are portrayed by each of the children who visit the chocolate factory? Think about it.
Augustus Gloop is obviously gluttony. That boy can eat, and eat, and eat. He falls into the chocolate river because he couldn’t stop drinking all the chocolate water.
Violet Beauregard is pride. She flaunts the fact that she is the current record holder for longest time spent chewing a single piece of gum. Not only that, she has to be the center of attention or else she’s not happy.
Veruca Salt is greed. Remember her song from the 1971 version? “Don’t care how, I want it now.” She doesn’t care how she gets what she wants as long as she gets it.
Mike Teevee is the representation of sloth. This is even more true in the 2005 film version. All he wants to do is watch television instead of doing anything else. He doesn’t even eat dinner at the table; he eats it in front of the television, on the couch.
Charlie Bucket represents lust. He wants that golden ticket more than anything; absolutely lusts over it. He kept close tabs on how many golden tickets were left, thinking about how the others who got their tickets first didn’t deserve them.
Those are the only five children in the book and movie, but don’t worry. We’ll find representatives of wrath and envy in the characters of Willy Wonka and Grandpa Joe.
Willy Wonka was a maniac with an explosive temperament. Gene Wilder was excellent as the mad man who had absolutely no problem letting those who disobeyed his rules get their comeuppance. He even snapped at Charlie and refused him his lifetime of chocolate. “You get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!”
Grandpa Joe envied what both Willy Wonka and Charlie had: the factory (Wonka) and the golden ticket (Charlie). Who can forget how he wanted Charlie to get an Everlasting Gobstopper when everyone else but he got one? “What about Charlie?!”
You can also argue that Grandpa Joe represents sloth. After all, the guy spent years in bed until he had the chance to go into the Wonka Factory.
Of course, not every character will fit one sin; some will overlap into others.
For example, Veruca Salt is both greed and envy. Mike Teevee sloth and wrath. Also, all the characters can represent greed to varying degrees.
There are two film versions of the story you can watch. The first is the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder. The other is the 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Johnny Depp. But you can also read the original Roald Dahl book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which some people find a bit darker.
You can decide whether the lesson would be more effective with the movie, or just let imagination run wild with book version. Personally, I’d go with the Gene Wilder version if you go the film route. Just just remember to distract the kids during that trippy boat ride part which still gives us grown-ups nightmares to this day.