Augustus Gloop is FAT – What Do You Think of That?

February 21, 2023

The Roald Dahl Story Company now manages the rights to Dahl’s books. In a statement about the changes they said, “Any changes made have been small and carefully considered…to ensure that Roald Dahl’s wonderful stories and characters continue to be enjoyed by all children today.” In other words, they are worried readers will be offended and not buy their books so they are changing anything that they deem offensive. The rather long list of edits that can be found in the Telegraph article indicate the changes are not small or carefully considered however, given many of them impact the weight Dahl ascribed to certain attributes and topics.

Changes to the initial descriptions of Augustus Gloop
Change in the Oompa-Loompa song lyrics about Augustus Gloop. the songs act as a conscience of sorts to convey the moral lessons to the reader throughout the story.

Taking the focus off of the results of Gloop’s gluttony and shifting it to his greed and insubordination alone amounts to a soft censorship of a particularly distasteful kind – one that disrespects the works of the original author by putting words in his mouth while erasing or softening the impact of his actual message. This immoral action seeks to achieve the selfish purposes of the censors (profit) by using the author’s name recognition and works against his will and intent. In this particular case it also creates a redundancy in the story; each child character that suffers a tragedy in Willie Wonka’s factory is meant to represent a certain set of traits/vices/behaviors of which Dahl wished to pass negative judgment. They are all generally selfish and insubordinate to varying degrees, but the character that is meant to really represent greed – wicked, nasty greed – is Veruca Salt.

Augustus Gloop’s purpose is to make the irrational act of gluttony and the physical consequences of it seem unheroic and self-defeating. To this point, at the end of the story Gloop, after accidentally being sucked up a pipe, is described when leaving the factory as “changed.” “He used to be fat! Now he’s thin as a straw.” His experience in the factory represents a transformational moment and the potential for anyone to willfully shift their behavior away from the sinful and towards the virtuous.

Roald Dahl, (1916-1990)

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