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The Witches

The Witches


by Roald Dahl

The Witches Theme of Awe and Amazement

Go count all the exclamation points in The Witches. We dare you. Give up? So did we. There is so much awe and amazement in this book that, in certain chapters, nearly every sentence ends in an exclamation point. The narrator is enthralled by his Grandmamma's stories; the witches are amazed at the amazing-ness that is The Grand High Witch; the narrator is in awe of the beautiful hotel; Grandmamma can't believe how brave her grandson is. And the list goes on. (!)

Reading about all this awe and amazement makes us, as readers, feel even more awe-struck and amazed. If these people, who live in a world where witches exist, are in shock, our reactions are even more extreme. We don't even know what a blabbersnitch is, for crying out loud. Roald Dahl's writing style adds to the sense of awe through its flashy vocabulary and his unbelieving tone. Check out Shmoop's sections on "Writing Style" and "Tone" for more on this.

Questions About Awe and Amazement

  1. What is the most awe-inspiring person, place, or thing in The Witches? Answer for yourself first, and then think how our narrator might answer.
  2. Based on his reactions in the book, is our narrator more in awe of his Grandmamma's stories or the witches themselves?
  3. What would happen if these events occurred in our world today? After all, this is a true story.
  4. If he's so amazed by all of this, why doesn't the narrator ask his Grandma more about her life as a witchophile?

Chew on This

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

Despite all the exclamation points, the witches aren't that amazing. They're defeated by a seven-year-old mouse, after all.

Roald Dahl needs to learn a lesson in subtlety. All the amazement and awe just seems over the top.

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