As we await a new Willy Wonka movie, can we all agree that we wouldn’t have wanted to spend any time in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory? Or at the very least, that it was no place suitable for children? Kind of like a more colorful version of Cube, pretty much every room had the ability to kill unsuspecting kids and adults alike in more and more elaborate and whimsical ways. There was what looked to be slave labor. There were no safety regulations whatsoever. And let’s not get started on that twisted river ride. But hey, the plants are edible! (Although that’s not unique to fiction.) None of that seems like a fun day trip to take your children on. But maybe that’s because Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory isn’t a delightful journey because what viewers are actually watching is a trip through Hell.
To properly visualize this fan theory, think of the classic guide through the netherworld, Dante’s Inferno. In the poem, each level of Hell is meant to punish a particular sin such as gluttony and thievery. Sound like any of those awful golden ticket winners? With each kid that’s punished for a sin, the group travels further into the bowels of hell. This would also help explain Wonka’s fun little boat trip. Plus, at the end of the Inferno, Dante climbs into the body of Satan himself and ascends to heaven, much like Charlie ascending into the sky in a magically unshattered glass elevator.
Whether the kids are navigating hell or a mad man’s deranged factory, it definitely seems like a place to avoid. Because chocolate and candy can just be bought in a store, after all.