Critical Analysis of “Television”

DISCLAIMER: The following piece is intended for teaching purposes and is not necessarily an example of good writing.

Roald Dahl was a children’s author who was born in Wales in 1916. He published his first book, “The Gremlins,” in 1943. He is also known for popular books such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach.” Besides writing books, Dahl was also a poet. He incorporated both humor and truth into his poetry and released several poetry collections. One of his poems was called, “Television,” and warned parents what might become of children if literature was absent from their lives. This is a long poem, but it has a great flow and rhyme scheme. It’s fun to read and appealing to children. The poem has a very clear message to parents and children.

Dahl begins by introducing the danger he is describing in the poem. He writes, “The most important thing we’ve learned/ So far as children are concerned/ Is never, NEVER, NEVER let/ Them near your television set -/ Or better still, just don’t install/ The idiotic thing at all.

It is obvious to the reader that the poem is meant to be humorous, but it also has a deeper meaning. It is not necessarily about the technology itself, but rather what it does to children. Dahl describes children who watch TV by stating that they “slop and lounge about,” and “sit and stare and stare and sit/Until they’re hypnotized by it.” The television brainwashes children and Dahl even suggests that it causes them to be “absolutely drunk/With all that shocking ghastly junk.” Television actually becomes a harmful addiction for children who watch too much and become “hypnotized” by that fictional world.

Next, Dahl goes on to say that he understands why parents let their children watch TV. It keeps them busy and “They don’t climb out the window sill/They never fight or kick or punch.” However the consequences of using TV as a babysitter can be extreme.


Years ago, children used their imagination to have fun. They made fun on their own without technology. They were active and creative. For parents asking what children should do instead of watch TV, Dahl says,

“THEY … USED … TO … READ! They’d READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!”

Dahl himself was always interested in literature and he believed children lost something if they didn’t have literature. Television doesn’t allow children to use their imagination, think, and wonder. Books provide children with possibilities. Dahl is passionate about allowing children to have the power to imagine through literature. Dahl writes about several popular books and stories children used to love. Using examples really adds to the poem and reminds parents how life used to be. He describes tales “Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales/And treasure isles, and distant shores/Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars/And pirates wearing purple pants/And sailing ships and elephants.” These lines also allow children to use their imaginations and picture the possibilities they can find in books.

     To conclude, Dahl advises parents to “Go throw your TV set away/And in its place you can install/A lovely bookshelf on the wall.” He admits that although children may be angry with this decision at first, soon “They’ll grow so keen/They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen/In that ridiculous machine.” Once children discover literature, life will be full of happiness and joy. Dahl ends the poem with a great line that shows some seriousness. He writes, “And later, each and every kid/Will love you more for what you did.” This was the perfect way to end the poem because it shows that even though this is a humorous poem, the message is important. Children need a way to open their imagination and have hope for the future. Literature can give this gift to children.

“Television,” by Roald Dahl is the perfect poem to show children the importance of literature. It’s funny and upbeat. Dahl also recognized the importance of imagery and the poem is very vivid. Dahl uses the humor to convey an important message. He encourages reading and shows how it can be fun and interesting. There has never been an author quite like Roald Dahl. Dahl died in 1990, but his legacy lives on through his unique literature.

Citation: DC Aries: