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Matilda

Matilda

by Roald Dahl

Matilda Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Education

As in many of Roald Dahl's books, the school in Matilda is a terrifying place—a place where adults like the Trunchbull can abuse students both physically and mentally, hurling them out windows, g...

The Supernatural

If your definition of the supernatural is limited to ghosts, goblins, and ghouls, you could argue that there's little supernatural stuff happening in this book. Sure, there's a ghost, but there's a...

Awe and Amazement

Either you're awed and amazed by something that's over-the-top cool, or you're awed and amazed by something unbelievably terrible. In Matilda, it goes both ways. We're as awed by the bad behavior o...

Fear

Shmoop may be terrified of giant spiders, but we're very thankful we don't have to be afraid of someone like the Trunchbull. We'll leave that fear to the students of Crunchem Hall, who spend their...

Youth

It's both fun and scary to be a little kid. There's more potential for magic and wonder everywhere you look. But there's also more potential for danger too. In Matilda, it's not just that grown-ups...

Violence

You might think that there wouldn't be much violence in a book that has a five-year-old main character. A kids' book can be scary, but not too scary. Well, you might be surprised at how much violen...

Family

Matilda challenges our understanding of family as something good, loving, and safe. For most of the book, the families that we hear about—Matilda's and Miss Honey's—are downright dreadful. Miss...

Freedom and Confinement

The Trunchbull holds everyone at school captive just by her threatening presence. She can also literally confine people in torture apparatuses like The Chokey, or force them into signing legal pape...

Good vs. Evil

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....
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