Chocolate and Fiction

Things happening in my personal life got me thinking about this. Christmas being just around the corner and being almost synonymous with chocolate makes now a good time for me to post about it.

Does chocolate show the light and dark of societal inequality? Source: GoodSearch Images

Food is often read about in books, both to tell the reader more about the characters as well as to fuel the characters. I have been thinking specifically however about chocolate and it has led me to realise the possible symbolism of chocolate in children’s literature (as I could only think of examples from children’s books).

The first story that came to mind was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the obvious one. Now, I want to admit I have only seen the original and remake films of the books and have never read the book. Please bare with me! In the classic Roald Dahl story, chocolate, in my mind, represents childhood and wealth. Charlie Bucket is poor. He buys the chocolate car with the little money he has. He is one child among many. In comparison to the other children who are desperate to get a coveted golden ticket to visit the fabled Wonka factory, he merely wishes to eat the chocolate because it is so rare for him to be able to have chocolate.

The same story plays out in the most recent remake film of the story, starring Johnny Depp. This suggests that chocolate is still seen as a luxury item within modern society and possible divides the haves with the have-nots, an issue that has popped a lot as of late in America and here in the UK. This I find quite extraordinary considering that the book was first published in 1964, the original film released in 1971 (starring Gene Wilder) and the remake in 2005.

The inequalities in society that chocolate could represent in fiction then led me to think about the Malory Towers series. I will grant that the books were set in a different time frame but the same themes and ideas are represented. When chocolate is mentioned in the stories, from the first book with Darrell to the last with Felicity, it is bought as a luxury item and by brand name, Cadbury’s. When a scholarship girl or a girl who is at the school thanks to a kindly uncle or other relative sees another buy some chocolate, they are described as staring or being surprised at the ease at which the chocolate is bought.

Specifically in regards to childhood, chocolate and sweets of any kind are talked about much more often in the earlier books of the Harry Potter series. There is an element of wealth involved as Harry buys practically everything off the trolley that the witch brings down the train. In the earlier books, before the stories become very dark, Harry, Ron and Hermione are very young, childlike. There is a certain innocence in the earlier books that’s lost as they grow older and things get darker, particularly after the third book. The third book is about family. Chocolate is also mentioned as a healing substance in Prisoner of Azkaban and I read Goblet of Fire as the story that effectively ends Harry’s childhood specifically.

Perhaps I am reading too much into things but in children’s literature at least, the possible symbolism of chocolate and what it says about our society seems staggering to me. It is especially so, to me at least, that the stories that have stood the test of time (and being remade for a modern audience) still carries the same message that permeates through our society. Have you any examples in other types of literature? Am I reading too much into it or do you think the same? Don’t be afraid to comment below.

Film Review: The Lone Ranger (2013)

Right, I am just going to get this review done!  I finally have a bit of time to actually write it although I cannot promise it will be the best. Sorry!

Told from the point of view of Tonto (Johnny Depp), the Lone Ranger follows the story of John Reid (Armie Hammer) and how he went from being a lawyer, on the side of the law to The Lone Ranger, on the opposing side of the law. John Reid’s return to his home town to his brother, Dan, and his family is less than happy when outlaw, Butch Cavendish, breaks out of custody and goes on the run. Dan enlists John’s help to track Cavendish down with other Rangers but is betrayed by one of their own, who is working for Cavendish. Cavendish and his posse ambush and kill the Rangers and, upon finding them, Tonto buries all of them. However, when a white spirit horse awakens John, Tonto encourages John to join him as they track down Cavendish together and to become The Lone Ranger.

This film is visually brilliant, if somewhat gory at times (surprising since this is a Disney film, even if it is rated 12A) and has all the connotations of a Western film. However, it is arguably also fantasy and, visually, slightly steampunk-ish. It is a great romp through the Wild West of America. The humour is also brilliant, if somewhat one side with Tonto seeming to get most of the jokes and John Reid played off as a bit of a goof and gets some slapstick comedy.

In a way, this film is Wild West Green Hornet, which was also a “how the hero came to be” story (a seemingly often reused story in Hollywood as of late!) A big difference is that the Green Hornet film (2011) had a much simpler story whilst Lone Ranger seems to go all over the place and at times, I was struggling to keep up. It was also slower in pace in comparison.

The only thing that made up for the pace and sprawling story was the humour. As mentioned above, I think it is brilliant, if very one-sided. The interaction between Depp and Hammer’s characters is great fun initially but gets a little repetitive.

The action is well paced and done brilliantly with the train chase at the climax of the film well paced and great fun to watch.

Something I would question is its uses of certain storytelling techniques. For one, it uses a framing technique of Tonto telling his story to a little boy in 1933. Is it needed? In my opinion, no. This film could easily have played out without the use of it. It also has a flashback to something that happens later in the story and, whilst the story does come back around and puts it in context, again, I don’t think it was needed or even necessary to put it in flashback. Why not just have the scene actually in its place in the story?

The music is well written but great soundtracks, regardless of the film, is to be expected from Hans Zimmer, who has done a fantastic job on Sherlock Holmes (2010) and The Lion King (1994).

In spite of the failings of the actually film, I do think there is just enough to rescue it from the panning of the critics in my opinion. It is funny, the action is great, it is visually exciting and the music is brilliant. I think it is worth a watch as long as you can forgive that  the story is not all that brilliant or well put together. Ultimately, it’s the story that let’s the film down.


Okay, I just wanted to post quickly and apologise for the lack of posts lately. A mix of real life issues to deal with (including starting my voluntary job) plus having been waiting for books and films to come out for me to read, watch and review has meant that I have not had anything to really post about it.

Hopefully, I will be getting back up and running this week as I have The Lone Ranger and Black Butler Volume 14 to review plus I am also working on some concepts for a couple of articles on writing fantasy and what inspires and keeps writers writing. I’m doing bits of research and working on those articles as I am not fully clear myself on what exactly I am going to do with those topics for the articles. I just know the basics. I won’t be posting both of those reviews and articles this week. Instead, I am aiming to post them over this week and next.

I am also working on developing some other ideas for articles whilst waiting for Last Stand of Dead Men, the 8th Skulduggery Pleasant book, by Derek Landy and the 4th Alex Verus book, Chosen, by Benedict Jacka to come out. As soon as I can get my hands on them and read them, I will be posting reviews up here.

So again, sorry for not posting much lately. I will be aiming to begin posting again this week (in theory) and I thank you all for being patient with me.