I am the maker of music, the dreamer of dreams!
Willy Wonka, portrayed by Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp, respectively, but created by the wondrous Roald Dahl, to be exactly what kids want to read about. One part wonderful, to two parts scary and nowadays pretty bloody unPC, but as a child, I first met Mr Wonka in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, I loved him, as I did all of Dahl’s books. Even the names give you something to conjure with (and could probably fill the A-Z by themselves if you used all of them!) But I am digressing into hero worship and need to get back to the point.
Willy Wonka, is a great comment on what society was, and that still fits to a certain extent now. He is seen as a great man, mostly due to outward wealth, but he is far from a good man when you consider that the Oompah Loompa’s are essentially a slave army. He’s eccentric, going from being a complete shut in to a man willing to open his vast factory to unknown competition winners
He’s also seen as a great inventor, but from what you see throughout the book, none of his inventions are stable. Of course in true Dahl style, each of these instabilities are revealed as a punishment for bad behaviour. Augustus Gloop is sucked up after giving into gluttony and eating from the chocolate river, Veruca Salt is thrown away as a bad nut after trying to steal a trained squirrel, Violet Beauregard is turned into a blueberry for chewing forbidden gum, Mike Teevee is shrunk after watching an experimental television. This also shows Wonka is a bit of a sociopath, as he shows no regard for the lost children. He only really chooses Charlie, because the boy has enough common sense to do as he’s told.
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
The Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz. The ruler of the Land of Oz and the man that Dorothy Gale finds herself ‘off to see’ in order to get back home. He appears in many forms to Dorothy and each of the companions – a giant head, a beautiful fairy, a ball of fire and a horrible monster – but to the group as a whole, a seemingly disembodied voice.
Of course, it is revealed that the Wizard is merely an illusion concocted by a conman, from Dorothy’s world, using magic tricks and props. Oscar Diggs (ignoring his seven middle names) worked as a magician in a circus where he used his hot air balloon blazoned with his first two initials ‘OZ’ to promote his show. One day, he and his balloon were blown into the Land of Oz and found himself worshipped as a great sorcerer. Rulerless at the time, the people of Oz accepted Diggs as their new ruler and he spent the rest of his time sustaining the con that he was a Great Wizard.
The Wizard appears in several of L. Frank Baum’s book series, eventually returning to Oz and becoming the advisor and court magician to Princess Ozma, the rightful heir and ruler of Oz. He became the witch, Glinda’s apprentice and the two of them were the only two people allowed to use magic without a permit. In later books, Diggs takes on another role, this time as an inventor and brings to Oz devices such as the mobile phone and Ozoplanes.
There are many adaptations of the Wizard, some the same as the book, others depicting the Wizard in a more unappealing, almost evil persona – such as in Gregory Maguire’s ‘Wicked – The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’.
The Wizard is also referenced a lot in popular culture, in particular the quote at the beginning of this piece.