Everyone knows this story: five children find golden tickets allowing them to tour a chocolate factory owned and operated by the cryptic Willy Wonka.
I say ‘sort of’ of castration anxiety because the castration themes of the book are not embodied by the children.
I presume that most people who read this story will identify with the protagonist, Charlie. He lives in poverty with his over-worked mother burdened by four elderly relatives. Despite this desperate situation, however, Charlie thrives on hope, and readers pray that were they in a similar situation, they too could find nuggets of happiness. Charlie is not dealing with castration anxiety, nor does he resort to imagination via fear. In fact, the most prominent man in his life, Grampa Joe, fosters a cheery disposition despite his inability to even get out of bed. Charlie does not lack a stable family, only the means to live a materially satisfying life. Children focus on this aspect of Charlie. However, rather than empathizing, or reliving their own traumatic emotional experiences, they connect with Charlie more sympathically: ‘how would I feel were I in his shoes?’
One could look for castration themes in the characters of the other children: Augustus, Veruca, Mike, and Violet. However, these children exhibit obsessive characteristics: gum chewing, over-eating, TV, and greed. Castration anxiety is a result of the phallic stage, which follows the cause of these traits, the anal stage trauma (Freud’s psychosexual stages of development are oral, anal, phallic). These children provide wonderful examples of how anal state experiences (e.g., potty training) can result in someone’s obsessive desire to retain that which was lost. Allow me a wild analysis: Mike’s parents may have distracted him with television so he would not realize a little piece of himself was falling into the toilet; Veruca simply couldn’t handle losing anything including her fesces; Augustus was so worried about expelling his insides that he needed to replace them as soon as possible; and Violet was given a pacifier while she pooped so she would not crack her teeth while clenching her jaw in agony. Or something like that.
Instead, castration anxiety plays a very important role in the character of the eccentric Wonka. In response to spies stealing his recipes, he closed the factory to the public. In doing so, he recruited oompa loompas and experimented with highly imaginative recipes, and, as is perfectly clear in the films, strange architecture. In order to protect himself from those who wished to steal from him, he retreats to an inglorious fantasy land. This is the latency period as brought on by fear of losing that which is most important to you.