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The magic that the witches use, it much different from that the wizards learn in school and is primarily based off of finding the right hook that allows everything else to work properly. The art of learning witch magic is always taught on a one to one basis with an older witch. Unlike wizards who usually learn their magic in large groups. It is common sense and a form of psychology called headology along with hard work that witches rely on and they rarely perform any magic at all.  For example, if a witch wanted to make something catch on fire, all she would have to do is stare at the object until it catches fire. This method uses less energy which technically makes a witch more powerful than a wizard.

With mirror magic, there is no need to depend on anyone else but yourself. Mirror magic is much safer than any of the other practices because it is self contained. Lilith’s explains the concept of mirrors when she says, “That’s why no one’s ever conquered the world with magic… yet. They try and take it from… other places… But with mirrors, you’re beholden to no one but your own soul,” (Pratchett 70-71). Mirror magic is something that may be safer but at the same time it can be dangerous because it is almost like you are fighting yourself because it is your own reflection. The Swamp Woman seems to obtain her magic from the swamp itself. Granny identifies the differences between swamp and mirror magic as she read, “And Mrs. G… hides in the swamp and fites back with swamp magic, but you cannot fite mirror magic which is all Reflection,” (Pratchett 112). Mirror magic seems to be something much more physical whereas mirror magic is much more internal with the person performing the magic. Swamp magic is not as easy to control as the other two because the power is derived from neither the mind nor the soul like the other two. This could potentially become dangerous because while Mrs. G is conducting magic, she could easily lose control of everything.   Unlike the typical assumption that magic stays within the family, witches do not teach their daughters magic because in a sense it would be a sort of a magical inbreeding.  

Mirror magic seems to be the most power of all of the three types of magic because of how sacred it seems to be in the book. It takes substantial practice and focus and is something that only you can control. With headology, the power is derived from yourself much like mirror magic, however it is much more psychological whereas mirror magic seems to use both your soul and some psychological features. Swamp magic is all of the power derived from the swamp and it is difficult to control.

“I likes ’em”

As readers we’ve got misconceptions

Witches haven’t got such bad reflections

Sure some ointment makes them smell

But they talk to Death- What the Hell?

There’s also the concept of second sight

Invincibility in the dead of night

‘Cause they already know when they’re going to die

Not that they would say good-bye

The Witches Abroad are a lonely sort

Life’s preferably led without cohort

As a group they’re also unrefined

They’re a fairly gruff accented kind

Gripin and groanin and warnin and such

Of verbs ending in “g”, they haven’t much

But Magrat is a new specimen

NOT a sex object, not feminine.

A witch who’s willing to break tradition

Wearing pants, on a kick-boxing mission

Desiderata saw something in her

That within the plot has yet to occur

She’ll have to deal with Weatherwax

A Granny from whom we learn all the facts

About witching and non-fairy godmothering

Her lack of experience won’t stop her smothering

Readers and Magrat with her witchy-ness

They all are quite selfish but’d never confess

Especially Lillith with all her reflections

But who’d want infinity in their soul’s collections?

“Mirrors give plenty, but they take away lots.”

Vanity, power, sly witching plots

In a secondary world, you just never know

A witch may love happy-endings, she may love snow.

Magrat and her first born, Ninja:



There’s nothing new under the Sun. So why do we keep on telling the same stories over and over again? Is it because we like to hear ourselves talk? Or simply because there’s nothing better than a damsel in distress who eventually get’s saved by a dashing Prince—or huntsman? And then, to top it all off (say it with me) “They lived happily ever after!”

…But not always.

What would happen if Little Red survived? Or even her Grandmother? What if the witch, ahem, excuse me, Black Abiss in Hansel and Gretel wasn’t evil but was just having a bad day? What if, God forbid, Cinderella didn’t want to marry the Prince? What if her name wasn’t even Cinderella, but Emberella?

According to Pratchett, all these things are possible in the Discworld—a world centered on story-telling.  It’s a world that looks in on itself, much like two mirrors reflecting off each other—and that’s where the repetition comes in. If these fairytales don’t change, that’s what the world will become:  an endless reflection of the same story.

Thanks to Terry Pratchett’s thirst for change, we get to see a new perspective on classic fairytales. For instance, Maybe the wicked witch of the East (Nanny Ogg) was not so wicked—maybe she was just on her way to save Cinder(Ember)ella from a grizzly fate—marrying against her will. And of course, she suffered. But how could she not? She was wearing an infamous punishment-warranting fairytale staple: the red shoes.

In situations like this, Pratchett plays with clichés mocks old fairytale truisms, such as the dashing hero and the malicious villain. In his version of Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf is not evil at all. He, like many fairytale creatures, is a human trapped inside an animal’s body. Therefore, he is easily mistaken for human, as Little Red shows us. And the dashing huntsman is really quite, well, dumb. He needs to be instructed by two old ladies how to deal with this carnivorous wolf.

But this falsified fairytale harmony cannot go on forever—it is—it is by no means perfect. Pratchett writes, “Genua was a fairytale city. People smiled and were joyful the livelong day. Especially if they wanted to see another livelong day” (Pratchett 84). Here, we see Pratchett, again, mocking this idealized world in which all fairytales take place. It is not a natural joy, but a forced joy. Therefore, according to Lilith, the supposed ringleader of it all, Emberella must marry the Prince whether she wants to or not. And that’s that.

Clearly, Pratchett is bored, as are the readers of these tales, and therefore stops telling these stories between two mirrors, so that they don’t go on repeating for all time. Because in reality, there aren’t always “Happily Ever After”s. Something’s got to give.


     Terry Prachett begins his novel Witches Abroad with the statement that, “Stories don’t care who takes part in them. All that matters is that the story gets told, that the story repeats.”  In other words, it is not the characters or the plot that matters, but the fact that the story lives on.  Characters such as Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella have managed to stay alive through the constant retelling and revising of their stories.  Witches Abroad functions similarly, going on to say that stories affect people rather than the other way around.  Stories and the people who tell them or listen to them are infinitely connected because one cannot survive without the other; without people to tell them, stories die, and without stories, people have lost a vital part of their growth because of the lessons set down by the tales they hear.

     Prachett is not the only author to make this point.  His contemporaries also use the reliance of stories on the people who tell them in their own works of literature.  One example of this is the graphic novel series Fables.  This series involves fairy tale and classic fiction characters such as Snow White and Pinocchio, though set in the 21st century and a small section of New York City.  These “Fables” escape their world, which is being destroyed by a malicious tyrant, and find a home in our own world while they plan and fight their war against this adversary.  Fables also provides a modern twist on familiar characters such as the Big Bad Wolf, here known as Bigby Wolf, and is now a sheriff with an attitude similar to that of a film noir detective.  

     One of the key characteristics of the characters in the Fables series is the sense of reliance on the retelling of their stories to survive.  The Fables are immortal to the extent of whether or not their stories are retold.  For example, if a Fable was somehow hurt or killed, it would be able to come back to life based on how popular its story.  The strength of the Fable also relies on its tale’s popularity with the people of our world.  In this way, Fables connects back to Prachett’s implication that what matters is that the story survives, so that we can continue to learn from classic stories and those stories can evolve as we do.

     In Witches Abroad, the reliance on stories and indifference towards characters is shown in the character Lilith, a fairy godmother obsessed with making sure that everything goes according to the plot.  She does not care who the players in the story are, as long as it gets told.  This theme drives the entire novel, as the reason for the three witches’ adventures stems from their need to make sure the story does not end the way Lilith wants it to.


               Roald Dahl while he does comment on today’s youth he is even more critical of how their parents raised them. Dahl’s goal isn’t to necessarily alter the way children behave, but to alter the way their parent’s raise them. Willy Wonka, the character with whom Dahl uses to judge society, finds that the source of corruption is found within adults. Dahl makes it clear throughout his story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that children are products of the environment they grow up in. This can be seen in a multitude of times and places throughout the story whether it be in a parent’s statement to the newspaper or in the songs the Oompa-Loompas sing.

                When Willy Wonka originally distributes the golden tickets he doesn’t offer the experience to just anyone, but instead he “decided to allow five children,” clearly excluding adults, to come to his factory (Dahl 19). Once again this becomes clear at the end of the novel after Wonka reveals to Charlie that he is to inherit the factory. When questioned about giving the factory to Charlie, Wonka replies by saying, “A grownup won’t listen to me; he won’t learn. He will try and do things his own way and not mine. So I have to have a child.” This simple statement is a way for Dahl to portray to his readers that once children grow up they will have trouble changing and growing as a person later in life. Dahl wants to get across to the reader how immensely important it is to teach children how to behave when they are still young enough and still malleable enough to become overall good people.

                Each child along with their parents, the exception being Charlie and his family, highlights various aspects that Dahl feels parents need to work on in modern society, all of which converge to become the overall warning to parents to avoid losing control of their children. Dahl first highlights this in his representation of the Gloop family when Mrs. Gloop’s quotes to the local newspaper, “Eating is his hobby…But still, that’s better than being a hooligan and shooting off zip guns and things like that in his spare time, isn’t it (Dahl 22)?” Mrs. Gloop obviously recognizes that this is not ideal, simply by the way she is comparing it to something that she thinks is worse, yet she still questions herself on whether that matter actually is worse. Some parents will continue fueling their children’s misbehaviors despite them knowing it to be possibly harmful.  This can be seen when Violet starts chewing the gum that Wonka warns her not to, and all her father tells her is to “Keep chewing, kiddo!”  (Dahl 96) The most obvious part of the novel where Dahl is critiquing the way parents raise their children is in the Oompa-Loompas’ song following the part where Veruca Salt falls down the chute because she was greedy. The song points out that “For though she’s spoiled, and dreadfully so, a girl can’t spoil herself, you know (Dahl 117).” With Mike Teavee, the Oompa-Loompas’ farewell song goes a step further by accusing parents of using  television to subdue their kids so that “they never fight or kick or punch, they leave you free to cook the lunch,” so not only are parents spoiling their kids, but they are doing it for their own selfish reasons.  When comparing these families to Charlie’s they may superficially be alike in some ways, but in reality they are nothing alike. Charlie’s parent’s give for the sake of their child and the other parent’s give for the convenience and ease of it.

                Dahl wants to warn parents of the harm that comes from spoiling their kids, and what better way than a story where all the kids who are given everything and who are wrapped up in themselves fall short in comparison to the hero who had nothing to start off with, but yet manages to be selfless in the relatively selfish world.

Spoiled Brat

Oompa-Loompa Music

What are Oompa-Loompas? People? Animals? This is a question that Dahl leaves us wondering throughout the text. Surely, they are not considered humans. In fact, they seem to be some sort of sub-human species. There are many parallels between Willy Wonka’s employment of the Oompa-Loompas and the enslavement of Africans.

The way in which Mr. Wonka procured the help of the Oompa-Loompas is very similar to the way in which Africans were taken to work for whites. Mr. Wonka tells the story of how he found the Oompa-Loompas in a “terrible country” with “thick jungles infested by the most dangerous beasts in the entire world” where they were forced to eat disgusting caterpillars because they couldn’t find anything better to eat. This description strikingly resembles what the Western white man’s perception of Africa was. The Oompa-Loompas were members of a sort of primitive tribe, smarter than animals, no doubt, but not quite up to the level of the white man. Mr. Wonka then bribed the Oompa-Loompas into practical enslavement by promising to feed them lots of chocolate. They are not employed, able to leave or quit whenever they wished, they have no choice but to spend their entire lives working for the Wonka Factory. Mr. Wonka even had them smuggled over to his country in shipping packages.

Also, Mr. Wonka, despite his apparent fondness of the Oompa-Loompas, does not treat them with respect, as equal human beings. Although he says, “of course, they’re real people!” he still treats them as if they are inherently inferior to him. He summons them by snapping his fingers and they appear instantly to unquestioningly obey his every order. Also, he mentions on several occasions that he tests his products on the Oompa-Loompas. In this way he considers them much like animals, having no rights and dispensable. He doesn’t mind if they suffer the adverse effects of his concoctions. Mr. Wonka seems to care for the Oompa-Loompas, but more as pets than friends. This is much like the attitude that was taken by the “good” slave masters. He finds them amusing and wants to make sure there is someone to take care of them after he is gone, assuming they cannot take care of themselves.

Dahl’s portrayal of slavery through the role of the Oompa-Loompas is confusing. It is presented through the perspective of the white man. We are led to believe that these Oompa-Loompa slaves are unable to care for themselves and a truly better off working for Mr. Wonka. It is even portrayed as a great kindness for Mr. Wonka to rescue them from their uncomfortable lives and provide for them. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dahl presents an unconventional and potentially controversial commentary on slavery through the role of the Oompa-Loompas.

Character Critiques

charlie and the other lucky winnersRoald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is not your typical fairytale hero story; rather it is just an aimless tale for children.  There is no main hero, villain, damsel in distress, wicked stepmother, etc.  The plot of the story as well is very simplistic and does not offer any challenges to the main character, Charlie Bucket, other than poverty.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is simply a silly story about disobedient children and a whole of chocolate.

Charlie Bucket is no hero in this story.  To be a hero, a character must conquer challenges, and be put into dangerous, threatening situations and find a way out alive.  Charlie does none of this.  Although he defeated his poverty and got his family away from a lifetime of hunger, it was all out of pure luck and no skill.  It was luck that he found the dollar bill to buy the chocolate bars, and luck that he got the bar with the golden ticket.  “How did he manage to find it, I’d like to know? Twenty bars a day I’ve been buying for weeks and weeks” (Dahl 45).  Lucky Charlie only had to buy two bars when many people were out buying twenty, or even thousands a day to find that golden ticket.  It was luck and fate that gave Charlie that ticket and nothing else.  In addition, it was his respect and obedience that got him through Wonka’s factory, but he didn’t have to conquer any feats during that time.  Since he was compliant during the tour of the factory, he was the last child and remaining and therefore was chosen to take the factory into his own hands for the future.  The only “heroic” action that Charlie completed was being respectful and listening to Wonka’s orders.  In my mind, that makes him no hero, just a respectful and lucky boy.  In a true fairytale, the hero usually undergoes a development of transformation, when we see none of this happen to Charlie Bucket.

In addition to there being no main “hero” in this story, there also is no main villain.  Some may argue that Willy Wonka is the villainous character, but in reality he does nothing wrong.  He created this incredible factory on his own, with many magical elements, like Oompa Loompas and “never ending gobstoppers.”  It was his choice to let five lucky children tour his factory, but he gave them all strict instructions and warnings about certain rooms and areas not to touch.  For example, he strictly warned Violet not to take the gum, saying “I would rather you didn’t take it, I haven’t gotten it quite right yet…don’t!”(Dahl 95)  Violet blatantly ignored Wonka’s demands and proceeded to chew the gum, and therefore suffered the consequences.  It was the greedy kids who get themselves in trouble, therefore it was all of their faults, not Wonka’s, making him no villain what so ever.

The entire plot of this story was the journey of viewing Willy Wonka’s factory and the rebellious children who caused problems along the way.  The biggest “battle” in the story was the poverty of the Bucket family, which was cured by pure luck.  In a true fairy story, there is usually some kind of hero that conquers a large challenge and saves someone or something.  Overall, I do not believe that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a fairytale at all; rather it is just a tale.  It is an easy read for children to enjoy and teaches them the lesson of obedience and respect.

Oompa Oversight

Characters in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, each take a stand to represent a different aspect of possible human personalities, but what about the characters who aren’t human?  The Oompa-Lumpas in Dahl’s text seem disconnected from human life; yet they still play an important role in a novel all about the charms and curses of humanity.  These tiny people may not display human characteristics themselves, but they speak as overlooking figures, exposing the kinks in human children from a non-human but high-up viewpoint.

Right from the very beginning Dahl’s discussion of the Oompa-Lumpas keeps them surrounded by mystery and gives them an inhuman, almost divine aura.  Grandpa Joe tells Charlie the story of the Wonka factory’s closing down and then reopening.  The event is surrounded in magic as the factory appears to work completely by itself.  Smoke comes out of the chimneys, but “the great iron gates [are] still locked and chained as securely as ever, and Mr. Wonka [is] nowhere to be seen.”  Grandpa Joe prolongs the magical feel by describing the secret “dark shadows moving about behind the frosted glass windows.” (17)  Oompa-Lumpas are already shrouded in mystery, and the fact that no one ever saw the workers go in or leave made them even more inhuman and bizarre.  Finally, these shadows are reputed to be “of tiny people, people no taller than [Grandpa Joe’s] knee.” (18)  Obviously, these characters are set apart from the regular human world.

Additionally, these tiny beings seem to hold a lot more knowledge than any of the characters, excepting perhaps Willy Wonka himself, seem to possess.  The very first time the golden ticket group runs into these people they already appear to know more than the children and their parents.  They point at the children from across the way and “burst into peals of laughter.” (68)  When Willy Wonka summons an Oompa-Lumpa after the loss of the first child, Augustus Gloop, the Oompa-Lumpa shows an inhuman reaction to the tragedy and begins to laugh a second time, revealing the differences between the human characters in the book and who Wonka suggests to be “real people.” (76)  Finally, the Oompa-Lumpas really display their true character and true knowledge after the disappearances of the various children.  They burst into witty song and highlight the problems of each of the missing children, blaming the parents and children alike for these faults.  Their teasing songs about, for instance, turning a child into “a luscious piece of fudge” cannot be ignored because of the truth of their moral themes, and the repetition of these songs for each child ensures that the reader sees the songs as important and really looks at what each song has to say.  Dahl’s Oompa-Lumpas display a overview of each golden ticket child, raising them above the base human characters who see the children as brutes, but cannot pinpoint their weaknesses nor do anything about them.

The Oompa-Lumpas in this text are not simply cute little characters who lend humor and wit to a child’s book.  The are the backbone of Dahl’s moral message and serve as characters separate from and above the human beings being exploited in the tale.  The inhuman description and magical quality of these tiny beings lends power, truth, and a sense of divine oversight to the witty songs of these creatures and ensures their bits of wit are heard and understood.


Mike Teavee, Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde, and Veruca Salt may be described as “spoilt” children, however they represent more than the average child with pushover parents. However, each child represents six of the seven “deadly sins” that gives a tragic flaw for each character to depict. These qualities are used to warn the reader against these flaws and to punish the characters for their actions in the factory. Mike Teavee represents sloth. Veruca Salt represents luxury, greed, and envy. Augustus represents gluttony. Violet Beauregarde represents pride.

Augustus Gloop is one of the first ticket finders within the novel. He is described to be “enormously fat he looked as though he had been blown up with a powerful pump. Great flabby folds of fat bulged out from every part of his body, and his face was alike a monstrous ball of dough with two small greedy curranty eyes peering out upon the world” (Dahl 21). According to Dahl’s description, he puts a negative connotation on the appearance of Augustus. The description shows a disgusting nature in Augustus stating that he was blown up, which gives a vivid and unfortunate image in the readers mind. The pride his mother shows for him is a biased opinion because those who are not in the Gloop family tend to be disgusted by his weight. His punishment is seen when he almost drowns in the chocolate river and sucked up through a pipe that could lead to his death, but instead provides a punishment.

Veruca Salt is the typical “daddy’s little girl”. She is greedy and envious of what she does not have. She gets what she wants when she asks for it, and if her wish is not granted instantaneously she throws intense temper-tantrums that speed up the process. . Salt tries to hide the unnecessary nature of his daughter by covering it with his “good hearted nature”. He tells of how she “found” the ticket and tells of how Veruca “got more and more upset each day, and every time he went home she would scream at him ‘Where’s my golden ticket! I want my golden ticket!’ and she would lie for hours on the floor, kicking and yelling in the most disturbing way” (Dahl 25). Veruca’s greed takes over her emotions. Her envy and greed consume her. Through out the journey through the chocolate factory, she sees some of the items that Willy Wonka possesses and frantically demands that her father get her the same ones as Wonka. Her envy of people’s items is an issue that is carried out through the novel, which results in her ultimate punishment of falling down the trash chute. It is symbolic because even though she has the money, it does not buy her class, but ultimately remains trailer trash.

Violet Beauregarde is a competitive girl who demands to win. She claims to be a gum chewer and is currently aiming toward a world record in chewing gum. During her interview after attaining a golden ticket, she states, “I’m a gum-chewer, normally, but when I heard about these ticket things of Mr. Wonka’s, I laid off the gum and switched to candy bars in the hope of striking lucky”(Dahl 31). Her competitive nature in gum-chewing resulted in an extreme pride in her “accomplishments”. Her obsession with gum is her fatal downfall because she ends up turning into a blueberry after Mr. Wonka attempts to stop her from chewing the gum that is flavored like dinner. Her pride for winning and her competitive nature disregard her instructions because Violet believes she knows everything.

Mike Teavee does what every child dreams to do: watch television all day, everyday. He does not do anything besides watch western shows and other violent shows on television. He ultimately tries to be just like the people on television, which impairs his development to determine what is real and what is just created by the producers of programs. His usual nature is showed through his inability to get off the couch. His deadly sin is sloth. He is lazy and does not do anything. It is surprising that he actually goes to Wonka’s chocolate factory instead of watching his regular programs. His punishment for enjoying the TV is  that he is shrunken due to his desire to be the “first person in the world to be sent by television”.

Augustus Gloop

Veruca Salt

Violet Beauregarde

Mike Teavee

In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory five kids get the chance of the lifetime when they get to go to the mysterious Wonka Chocolate Factory.  Of these five kids, four are rotten.  These four kids make up their own “four deadly sins” with each representing a negative quality of children. Each of the children has an attribute that aligns them with one of the seven deadly sins, making them the “four deadly sins of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Roald Dahl uses Charlie as an example to how children should behave, and punishes the others, ironically according to their bad characteristics.

The first to be punished is Augustus.  His contribution to the “four deadly sins” is gluttony.  Gluttony deals with the greed of food and over-eating.  This is evident in Dahl’s descriptions of Augustus, especially the first description 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 over-indulgence 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.  While in the Chocolate Room Augustus is swept away after trying to drink from the chocolate river.

Next is Violet, whose deadly sin is greed.  She is preoccupied with gum and the power it gives her.  Violet’s greed is evident when they get to the Inventing Room.  When Mr. Wonka tells her about the revolutionary new gum that is a meal, she automatically wants it and takes it for herself even after Mr. Wonka warns it is not quite right.  She is too consumed by the power gum has over her and how much she wants it and it is this greed that leads to her becoming a blueberry.

After Violet becomes a blueberry Veruca is punished for her sin of lust.   Now her lust is not linked sexually, but a lust for what other people have.  Her parents are no help because they spoil her and give in to her demands.  Whenever she sees something new she automatically wants it.  The act that leads to her punishment is in the Nut room.  Once she sees the squirrels that are trained she wants one immediately.  When she breaks the rule and her lust for a squirrel is too much she is ultimately deemed by the squirrels as a bad egg, and is not indulged for her lust for a squirrel, rather thrown down the garbage shoot.

The last of the sins is Mike, who is sloth.  The reason for representing sloth is because he would like to do nothing more than just sit at home and watch the television.  He is completely consumed by television and watching it and doing nothing else.  When he learns about the ability to transfer something real to TV he leaps at the chance.  It is his obsession with television and wanting to be non-productive and slothful, which leads to his demise and shrinking.

By giving the example of these children and their lessons as being the deadly sins, it shows children that these characteristics are not acceptable.  It tells children that if they have these characteristics and persist with them they will be punished like Augustus, Violet, Veruca, and Mike.  Dahl also offers Charlie as an example of how to act.  Charlie is such a humble, gracious, and ultimately good person.  Because of his characteristics he not only came to be the owner of the greatest chocolate factory in the

world but his family also got a happy endingverucaviolet.augstusmike

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