Gluttony, Greed, Lust & Sloth

In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory five kids get the opportunity of a lifetime when they get to go visit the baffling unknown world of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.  It turns out that of the five lucky children, that all but one is awful.  Each child has a characteristic that aligns them with one of the seven deadly sins.  Roald Dahl uses each of the children to illustrate four of the seven deadly sins and their punishments in contrast to Charlie who is an example of how children should behave.

The first child to be punished is Augustus Gloop who’s deadly sin is gluttony.  Gluttony is excessive eating or drinking which is evident in the author’s descriptions of the boy saying, “Great flabby folds of fat bulged out from every part of his body, and his face was like a monstrous ball of dough with two small greedy curranty eyes peering out upon the world” (21).  His greed of food made him into this little fat boy who is too preoccupied with eating and food, he does not want to do anything else.  His punishment is set according to his love of food. Ironically, while visiting the Chocolate Room, Augustus is sucked up a pipe after trying to drink from the chocolate water fall and river.

The next child is Violet Beauregarde, whose deadly sin is greed.  Greed is excessive or extreme desire, which in this case is gum. She is preoccupied with gum saying, “I adore gum. I can’t do without it…it’s my most treasured possession” (31). The readers see Violet’s greed is evident when they visit the Inventing Room.  When Mr. Wonka tells her about the original new gum that is a full course meal, she automatically wants it and takes it for herself even after Mr. Wonka warns her it is ‘not quite right yet’ (95).  She is too obsessive by the gum and the feeling it gives her that she eats it anyway leading her becoming a blueberry.

Following Violet is Veruca Salt who is condemned for her sin of lust.   Lust is an uncontrolled desire for what someone else has. Her parents spoil her and give in to her demands so whenever she sees something new she automatically wants it and gets it. When she visits the Nut room she sees the trained squirrels and immediately wants one. “Hey Mummy, I’ve decided I’ve wanted a squirrel!,” but when Wonka says they are not for sell she says “Who says I can’t! I’m going in to grab me a squirrel this very minute!” (111). She decides to ignore Wonka and his warnings, however her ‘lust’ for a squirrel is too much so she is punished by the squirrels themselves because she was classified as a bad egg, causing her to be thrown down the garbage shoot.

The last child is Mike Teavee, whose deadly sin is sloth. Sloth is spiritual or emotional apathy, in other words, being physically and emotionally inactive. All he does is sit at home and watch the television.  When the reporters came to interview him he yelled several times for everyone to be quiet then claiming that the show “is an absolute wiz-banger! I watch it every day. I watch all of them every day, even the crummy ones” (33). He is completely consumed by television causing him to be physically and emotionally inactive every day. When Wonka explains about the ability to transfer something real to television, Mike jumps to the opportunity.  It is his obsession with television along with not wanting to be productive and ultimately his slothfulness, that leads to his punishment of being shrunken.

The effectiveness of giving these examples children portraying deadly sins and their lessons shows children that these characteristics are not acceptable.  It tells children that if they have these characteristics and do not grow out of them then they will be punished like Augustus, Violet, Veruca, and Mike.  Roald Dahl also uses Charlie as an example of how to behave.  In contrast to the other children, Charlie is such a humble, well-mannered, thoughtful, and an overall good person. He is awarded for his good heart, becoming the owner of the best chocolate factory in the world.

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