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Themes

In Matilda, we don't just have one meanie to contend with; we have three. The first one we meet in the book is Matilda's father, Mr. Wormwood, who treats his daughter like an irritating little bug. The second meanie, Mrs. Wormwood, is pretty harmless compared to the other two, but she's a meanie nonetheless because she totally ignores her awesome daughter. The third meanie, the Trunchbull, takes the cake. She rules Crunchem Hall with an iron fist, and completely destroys Miss Honey's life. Luckily, we've got the spectacular Matilda fighting on the side of good. With her wits and skills, she takes down these Big Bads, and we cheer her on every step of the way.

Questions About Good vs. Evil

  1. All right, Shmoopers, here comes the big question: who is evil in this book? Are they purely evil, or do they have any good qualities? And who is good in this book? Are they purely good? How do you know?
  2. Do you think Matilda is good? What are some examples of her being good? Can you think of any examples of her being bad? Or, dare we say, evil?
  3. In Matilda, is it ever good to be bad? How do you know?
  4. Are the evil always punished in Matilda? Are the good always rewarded? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

All of Matilda's pranks, even though they might put her on the naughty list, are actually a-okay because they were done to big meanies.

Matilda isn't good. Sure, she's nice, but her pranks show that she's a mischief-maker, and she shouldn't just get away with them, no matter whom the targets are.

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