Roald Dahl is a Brilliant Creator of Children's Books

Topics: Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl

It has been always interesting to take and find critical points in the works of a well-known and prolific author. However, the author under discussion is Roald Dahl, who has already presented himself as one of the most well-known authors for children in the world today. Unquestionably, gender stereotype is represented in all of Roald Dahl’s children’s books; children with limited opportunities, are often treated and judged unfairly. In the study, I examine how children’s authors have presented the male and the female characters.

The gap grown through the years has enhanced massive differences between male and female characters in the stories. It says that the societal images and conventions may differ. The objective of this study is to find out and clarify gender role elements as portrayed in the mentioned children’s books. I will not restrict my scope of analysis to portraying the characters that are dominant in the books. In addition, I’m not focusing solely on female characters.

Because focusing on solely female characters doesn’t allow the story of male voices, instead, most of them die.

Biography of Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl as a prolific author was born on 13 September 1916 in Llandaff, Wales. His parents were Norwegian. His father, Harald, died when Roald was just three. He was a tremendous diary writer. Dahl was an influential author of the 20th century, and many of his literary works from the years 1943 to 2006 were public shed for the first time in the United Kingdom.

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Most widely, his works are identified as children’s books. Roald Dahl’s books were inclchildrenuded 18 children’s books and 3 children’s poetry books. He wrote many stories for adults too. Some of his stories have been made into movies. Probably his most famous children’s books are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory(1964), Matilda(1988), Fantastic Mr. Fochildrenx(1970), The Gremlins(1943), James and the Giant Peach(1961), The BFG(1982), and The Witches(1983). He started his career as a children’s author after he became a father himself. He began writing short stories for adults while he was serving in World War II, a collection of short stories, Over to You in 1946. Then, Roald became interested in writing children’s books by making up bedtime stories. Amazingly, ‘his first stories were based on bedtime tales he told his own children’ (Chris Powling 16).

Dahl is well known for short stories and children’s books and has also written autobiographies, novels, and poetry. He wrote about his life in Boys and Going Solo to Slivery ‘ Dahl’s experiences in boarding school, summer vacation in Norway, and other anecdotes from his childhood years are the subject of his first autobiography, Boy in 1984′(185). Obviously, in the process of shaping one’s character family and society play a major part, it seems Dahl’s teacher attitude had an influential role in his stories’ characters. Dahl is mostly considered “academically weak” (Treglown 18), while he attended a school as a child, Dahl was beaten with a cane for breaking a school’s rule by his teacher. The degree of violence and aggression and cruel teachers must have inspired some of the characters in his books. Fagging, beatings, the torture of new boys, and other miseries were typical occurrences during Dahl’s gory school years (Treglown 20).

In 1943, he wrote his first book, The Gremlins. It is about small creatures who transform into destructive and evil monsters. His second book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory turned him into a successful writer all over the world. In this book, the author combines the elements of fantasy and science fiction. To her, Dahl’s name will be forever associated with the peaches, chocolate, and Big Friendly Giants of children’s books that he changed forever(186). Although Eleanor Cameron is a well-known author of fantasy for children and a respected critic. In her 1972 essay ‘McLuhan, Youth, and Literature,’ Cameron lashed out against Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, one of the most popular children’s books … Factory, calling it ‘one of the most tasteless books ever written for children ‘(186). Dahl addresses her ‘The lady is completely out of touch with reality. He believes that ‘I am a better judge than Mrs. Cameron of what stories are good or bad for children(122).

Roald’s children’s books are full of adventure and humor. Dahl has been callheighteninges and flowery prose, and many of them are sensitive to good writing and can spot a clumsy sentence. To Dahl,

“it’s more rewarding to write for children. When I’m writing for adults, I’m just trying to entertain them. But a good children’s book does much more than entertain. It teaches children the use of words and the joy of playing with language. Above all, it helps children learn not to be frightened of books. Once they can get through a book and enjoy it, they realize that books are something that they can cope with. If they are going to amount to anything in life, they need to be able to handle books. If my books can help children become readers, then I feel I have accomplished something important” (West 65).

His children’s books have been glorified as skillfully crafted, with fast-paced plots, captivating detail, and words. Then, he invented delightful bedtime stories for them about good giants who blew dreams into children’s ears, stories which were accompanied by corresponding rituals (such as serving “sleepy potions” before going to bed or arranging a ladder for the giant to get to their bedrooms easily) as well as games to make them believable. Thus, Dahl’s children can be perceived as his first audience on which he tried the extremes of his imagination: he both understood and shared their taste for bad taste, and couldn’t have cared less about the consequences (Treglown 141). In addition to his writing career, to Chris Powling, ‘Dahl was a scrumdiddlyumptious storyteller'(7(.

Dahl has been heightening and relegated s a master of story construction with a striking ability to interlace a tale. To Jennifer Boothroyd, Dahl uses’ imagination to think of exciting ideas for stories’ (5). It never conveys that his an outsider heran or heroic and does the right things.

Roald Dahl was ‘imaginative and funny. He invented words like buzzwangle, zippfizzing, and frobscottle and creatures like Oompa-Loompas and snozzwangers ‘(True Kelley, Stephen Marchesi 3). To Michelle M. Houle, Dahl is influenced by ‘D. H. Lawrence, for some of his sentences and phrasing, not for his construction — his use of words. And Hemingway, for his construction'(86). He always was a bit of an outsider person (Chris Powling 8). Above and beyond, some of his stories are inspired by his mother’s tales about trolls and other mythical Norwegian creatures. Dahl’s biographer Jeremy Treglown even mentioned that Dahl was “the apple of his mother’s eyes” (13). In this sense, his mother gave him the tendency to excel in his resiliencediligence, diligence and, what is more, rather demanding. To Anita Silvey,

Most of Dahl’s stories revolve around a strict portrayal of good versus evil, and the child who embodies good is always triumphant. Evil, whether it is represented by landowners, witches, giants, or nasty children, is always severely done away within, to the end by a means appropriate to the character involved, evoking a bizarre and often gruesome sense of justice that empowers the child hero and, in turn, the child reader (185).

Some critics believed children in his books are rude and adults are too cruel and mean in order to Treglown ‘The writer’s stare is unblinking, and most of his tales are irritants, provocations’. Therefore, Dahl’s writing for children has been condemned on occasion as vulgar, brutish, meretricious and,, misogynistic (Butler1). It’s interesting to note that Quentin Blake was the illustrator of his books whose pictures are ‘scribbly and funny'(Gallagher 17).

Dahl has been every so often heavily criticized for his unusual, ope, and, even controversial style of writing which mirrored his complex personality. Some critics such as Ann Alston and ‎Catherine Butler claim that’ Dahl is a writer who tends to polarize opinion, dividing critics into detractors and defenders.'(2). Michael Rosen declares that Dahl ‘sometimes told stories that were not completely and utterly true. As he once wrote, I won’t lie. I merely make the truth a little interesting… I don’t break my words- I merely bend it slightly'(12). This argument appears to be relevant due to the use of satirical portrayal of adult characters as nasty, cruel, silly, Washingtonruns, egotistical provoking some parents. His rebellious tendency is frequently to question traditional educational as well as social values and ideologies. For Jill C. Wheeler’ Dahl’s stories were too dark and troubling for children. He disagreed. He said children never complained about his writing. Instead, they giggled and squirmed with delight as they read his fantastical tales'(5). Alongside, Frances E. Ruffin argues that Dahl ‘wrote about bratty children and mean, uncaring adults'(5). Conversely, Silvey stresses that ‘Dahl is a legend despite the numerous campaigns that have been mounted against him by the adult world'(185).

What is more, Dahl experienced individual tragedies which influenced his writings to a great extent anto later incorporated his experiences into his books toan Treglown ‘Dahl often turned his own experiences into fiction. For Jill C. Wheeler, ‘Dahl got ideas for his books and stories from incidents in his life. He frequently wrote his stories in an old, worn school notebook’ (4). His family had primary a influence on his writing into Silveyrder to toSilvey,

His heroes, in return, are generally bright, patients, selfless children who are suffocating under the misguided protection of delinquent caregivers or burdened by some other penalty such as poverty, dyslexia, or shyness. By heroic effort, and sometimes some assistance from a sympathetic adult figure, they are destined to overcome their difficulties in a miraculous mannermiraculously and to have plenty of deliciously harrowing escapes along the way. Using a remarkable skill with words, Dahl combines likable children, nasty villains, plenty of oandafactionion, and a large dose of nonsense, and deftly constructed to create one extraordinary tale after another (185).

To sum up, Dahl’s encounter with boring routine in the world of imagination His wasHisto Silvey vividly reflected in the stories, as such Roald Dahl found a great escape route as Treglown mentions that Dahl ‘absorbed himself in stories sometimes to have believed in more than he believed in people’ (19). Obviously, his stories are full of ups and downs, hence he creatively incorporates thiswasthis was incorporated wasincorporates both positive as well as negative elements into his characters. Therefore, the source of his imaginative vision, not mentioning rather gruesome elements in his writing for children, can be traced, in part, and terms of folklore and myths of northern Europe (Treglown 16). To Catherine Butler, ‘ Dahl was ( and remains ) not only popular and prolific: he was controversial. His books have been widely praised, but they have also been criticized as vulgar, meretricious, racist, misogynistic, and as lacking in nutrition as the sugary confections that figure so large within theirToad covers ‘(1). To adterms, along with this, Treglown claims that perhaps readers have been brought up on ‘an antic imagination, an eye for the anecdotal predicament with a twist at the end, a savage sense of humor… and an economical, precise writing style … Tension is his business; give him a surprise denouement, and he’ll give you a story leading to it’. Further, in terms of his career as a writer, his wolackadults identifyingcrueltylack a clear boundary between children’s and adults identifying fiction. As Carpenter and Prichard demonstrate, while Dahl’s stories “have an enormous and enthusiastic following among children, [they] seem objectionable to many adults” (125). Dahl seems ambivalent about authority and equality and his writing is often at its most successful. He is unrepentant in not only identify with the slot of passive and femininity toafterdeathe characters but an afteridentifyingcruelty and aggressiveness are also involved.

However, the huge success of his fiction has not come to end even byafter his. Roald Dahl died in Oxford, England, on 23 November 1990 due to a blood disease, myelodysplastic syndrome, and, was buried in Great Missenden.

Negative Portrayal of females, characters

‘Sex is a word that refers to the biological differences between male and female […].Gender, however, is a matter of culture: it refers to the social classification into masculine and feminine” (Oakley16). It conveys that gender is not natural; it is acquired in family and society via direct and indirect means which is a set of societal standards prescribing what types of behaviors are by and large considered acceptable, appropriate or desirable for an individual based on their sex. No doubt, these standards limit individual behavior. Although it may suppose that gender largely applies to women, gender refers equally to ideas about girls and boys, women and men.

Dahl is perpetuating patriarchal social structures by relying on traditional male-centered heroic fictions; the characters who are settled in hi the fictional world have been labeled as sexist and stereotypical. Dahl’s children’s books more perfectly fulfill the symbolic demands made by patriarchal society. One of the unbroken negotiationsthenegotiations the patriarchal in his books in both content and visual format are conflicting values and expectations. In other words, thepatriarchal dominant ideology is simultaneously reinforced, challenged, and perpetuated. Ultimately, his books are didactically advocating patriarchal ideals, but because of complex portrayals of characters, gender, and relationships, they may give a concenatratesuncertain impression about contemporary gender roles that are continuously working to define and promote.

Quite a lot of critics have already concentrated on female characters in Roald Dahl’s, but my discussion primarily concentrate concentrates on both run male and female characters in the bot content and visual format, and the ways they carry out a variety of masculine and feminine identities which is the primary subjects of the study of gender in children’s literature. Much of children’s literature possibly run the risk of naturalizing and perpetuating feminity and masculinity. Simultaneously, both content and visual format have a vital role in perpetuating these concepts. More importantly, Dahl’s children’s books are not limited to a playscontplays contentment play which plays a dynamic role for children, especially for those who cannot read. As such, how gender stereotypes, misogyny, and sexism in the both content and visual format affect the development of gender identity in children, and how males and females are portrayed will evaluate representations of gender.

For sure, books provide role models for children in defining standards for feminine and masculine behavior and attitude toward, appropriate gender roles. To Narahara ‘Gender stereotypes and sexism limit, children’s potential growth and development; non-sexist books can produce positive changes in self-concept, attitudes, and behavior'(16). With this in mind, it is necessary to provide a variety of characters that are not tracing gender roles. Gender roles have led to inequalities between men and women which legitimized for a long back. The prerequisite of changing attitudesraiseattitudes raise to achieve and accommodate equality is a conscious effort on the part of society. Children’s books have a unique role in this process by providing fresh insights that raiseconfront awareness, broaden horizons, confrontchild’s igconfrontnorance, and propaganda, expand their knowledge, and offer new models of behavior.

Portrayals of characters begin to play a bigger influence on children and the child’sformation of gender roles. Both content and visual format define standards for masculine and feminine behavior and attitude. Both characters and their interactions build up a child character. Further, they have the pothetentiapotentiall of selecting and memorizing both iconic and verbal indicators. Therefore, ‘The picture book is a strange content of the book because it succeeds in doing away with the text and relies on the presence of pictures’ (Le Men 145). Representation of female and male or anthropomorphic animal characters is a conscious effort to improve the visibility of females in the oth ontent content and visual format. The most obvious aspect of children’s books is, the internalized standard of the “male as normative” species in many ways while women are portrayed as the exception phenomenon (Hyde 119). Thus, in many cases, the conscious efforts are to not highlight the visibility of females, but also their existence as a problematic issue.

Female roles in Dahl’s books are polarized. Female characters are perfect in many ways, beautiful, kind, helpful, and compassionate according to societal expectations. They are also helpless, naive, and lack any sort of intelligence. The female characters who are portrayed as intelligencesenthusiasmeas ambitiousthroughoution are cunning and malicious. What’s more, the women who are cruel to the poor hero or heroine are defeated througthroughouth the story. When Dahl’s stories come to female roles the message these stories convey is that there are only two types of women: the abandoned and cunning. The female characters who have desires and the enthusiasm to achieve their goals are villainous and are punished in the end.

Popular but Problematic Books

No doubt, Dahl’s books convey a sense of sexuality, while t Anne-Marie Bird has the connotation of ‘asexuality’, and mostly encourages a sense of duality in representing his book. Generally speaking, Dahl is into Dualit-acceptable girls or women who are the embodiment of the patriarchal definition of femininity. Dahl’s female characters are victims of the sexist views held by the society in which he was raisedDualit. The dualitenting of Dahl’s books is a vision of uncompromising of gender stereotypes. For Ann Alston and Catherine Butler, ‘Dahl’s novel frequently reinforreinforces these the sexist gender norms in that he only valorizes female characters who are selfless nurtures'(143). Anne-Marie Bird concurs that the untraditional view of Dahl is obvious in his female character as described as using castrated b aseings, negative of man, or ‘not male'(122), which is truly designed for male pleasure. Similarly, Mulvey says the castration anxiety that woman evokes must be ‘masked’ or covered over as Dahl explains that

It was a mask!

As she took off the mask

In line with Bird, ‘fetishistic images such as long hair, long nails, stiletto-heeled shoes, and so on, which serve to replace or ‘stand-in’ for the absent phallus’ (123). Females’ female characters are fetishized, and objectified, lulling the male such as Mrs. Wormwood’s ‘I’m not in favor of blue-stocking girls. A girl should think about making herself look attractive so she can get a good husband later on. Looks is more important than books, Miss Hunky . . .’; she adds ‘I’m sitting pretty in a nice house with a successful businessman and you’re left slaving away teaching a lot of nasty little children the ABC'(98). Quite right, Michael Rosen, former children’s laureate claims that ‘There’s a persistent nastiness and brutality in Dahl and he lingers over their horrible appearances and habits'(29). What’s more, what’s the point of Dahl when Mrs. Wormwood says ‘A girl doesn’t get a man by being brainy'(80). That is going to meet how children see people and the world, unlike Kathryn Hughes, notes in the Guardian: ‘No matter how you spin it…Roald Dahl was an absolute sod. Crashing through life like a big, bad child he managed to alienate pretty much everyone he ever met effect (18), similarly, Michael Rosen believes that Dahl“allows a child to have that hate feeling toward adult carers”(30).

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Roald Dahl is a Brilliant Creator of Children's Books. (2022, May 14). Retrieved from

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