Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
In the 14th Century Dante wrote The Divine Comedy, the story of a poets trip through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. It had a lot of self-insert characters and Take That’s against people he didn’t like. But what if Dante had been around today? Where would he be visiting instead? Well join me as I impose his first poem, Inferno, in the most unlikely of places.
Dante starts off in a dark forest, attacked by monsters, before he encounters Virgil to guide his way. Charlie starts off in similarly dark circumstances, in darken poverty. He is poor and unnourished. While Dante is attacked by animals, he is attacked by temptation. The temptation of the Chocolate Factory. However when Charlie gets the Golden Ticket, he is joined by Grandpa Joe. Joe is the Virgil, the wiser older character to lead the way. As such the two of them pass through the gates into Hell.
Now the first circle is Limbo, the place where the not-so-damned live. This is the first stop in Charlie’s tour, the place just in front of the gates. This is where all the lost souls are clamouring to try and get into the so-called ‘paradise’. This is the first time they see Wonka, or Satan. Now in the poem Satan is trapped in the centre, I like to think that Wonka is a representation of a shadow of Satan. The version that walks among man. Wonka is certainly Satan-like. He makes candy to tempt kids, he has minions to do his bidding. He lives in Hell. This is our hero’s first encounter with evil. They even meet a version of Minos, the guardian of Hell. In this case it’s the Golden Ticket, which allows them to pass (since it gives them the ability to walk in hellish lands thanks to divine intervention, since divine intervention is another good way of saying ‘dumb luck’). As such they pass by the people who don’t realise they don’t want to be tempted and enter Hell.
Now circles 2 and 3 are Lust and Gluttony respectively, which is very fortunate indeed. For the first room they go to is The Chocolate Room, which represents these two circles. Likewise Augustus (the first boy to fall) represents the personification of these two sins. But lets back up a bit. The Chocolate Room is a place where everything is edible. Now this clearly represents Gluttony. You get to eat anything and everything. But where does the Lust come into it? Well for someone like Augustus, all we wants to do is eat. To him it’s better then sex would ever be. So it makes sense that this is a place of much lust for him. So how does he get disposed off? Well first he falls into a chocolate river, a ‘vile slush’ if you will. He then gets sucked up and subsequently blown out of a pipe, as if he was being blown about in a violent storm. These two areas show how one can be overwhelmed by their cardinal sins, causing them to suffer. Dante sees this, as does Charlie. So with these two circles (or one room) done, where do they go next?
Now it should be noted that the ferry ride with Charon occurs here, rather then earlier like it does in the poem. However both are ferry rides that are scary and have servants powering them. But moving on.
The Inventing Room corresponds to the circles of Greed and Anger. The greed part comes from the wealth Wonka gets from inventing such brilliant candies. It also shows how Violet suffers from Greed when she takes the candy. And the anger? Well Violet does get angry, she practically balloons full with it. But how does this relate to the room itself? Well I’m sure that all the Oompa Loompa’s that got experimented on would be pretty damn angry. Is it hard to believe that the Oompa Loompa’s would squabble with each other about who should volunteer, the same way the damn fight in the water? There could be something there.
The third room (and sixth and seventh circles) are the Nut Room (or Heresy and Violence). This is a room where the person represents the room better then the room itself. Now the Heresy thing comes from the fact that Veruca disobeys Wonka (which all the other do admittedly), but the result of it comes as Violence. She gets attacked by the squirrels and isn’t killed because she’s a ‘bad nut’. Her stupidity and punishment reflect the rooms pretty well. However Veruca represents different sins, namely Pride and Envy. However both tie back to Heresy. Heresy is the idea that one goes against the idea of God, blaspheme and the like. That could be said to show a side of ‘Pride’. Thinking oneself is better then God is certainly prideful. Even thinking one is better then the Devil also counts. Plus outside of that she’s pretty Prideful, since she thinks she’s the best. But she’s also envious of Wonka, since she has something she doesn’t have. So she is both prideful and envious, while in turn being punished for her Heresy with Violence.
What about the final room, The TV Room? The room that is meant to represent Fraud and Treachery. With a character that represents Sloth and Wrath. Well lets start with the character first. Firstly Sloth comes from the idea that all he seems to do is sit around watching TV. Pretty obvious. And the Wrath? Well assuming he also plays a lot of video games (as he does in the remake), that can make a person pretty violent. So what does this have to do with the room? Well the Fraud deals with the idea that Wonka says you can reach the chocolate through the TV, which is a fraud (since the technology doesn’t make sense to work). Meanwhile the Treachery comes from Mike betraying Wonka’s trust and suffering for it. So like the room before it, the punishment deals with the circles rather then the room itself.
Now normally it’d end there, but you obviously don’t know me that well. Dante and Virgil leave Hell and go to Purgatory, ascending up to it. Likewise Charlie and Grandpa Joe ascend thanks to the glass elevator. The only difference is that they have Satan with them in the form of Wonka. But the next book, The Glass Elevator, deals with the characters getting over their various sins. Charlie the Christ figure has none, so it’s down to the adults to learn to overcome their sins. Like stop being sloths and getting out of their beds. Or stop being too prideful to do anything. Or being wrathful at Wonka. The Glass Elevator is about stripping one of sins so they can go to Paradise.
Paradise, in this case, means the White House. Yes to every American the White House is indeed Heaven. But besides that, they also get the joy of living in Hell (the Chocolate Factory) without suffering. Since all the good sins are in Hell anyway, they are indeed in Heaven.
So there you have it. A modern day interpretation of two classics in the briefest possible explanation. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.