Study Guide

Matilda Awe and Amazement

By Roald Dahl

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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 of grown-ups like Mr. Wormwood and the Trunchbull as we are amazed by the pranks that students play and the mental magic Matilda delivers. It seems like everything in the book is over the top, from the way the Trunchbull hurls students across fields to the ghost Matilda conjures up in Miss Honey's classroom. It's all about pushing the limits of what we would expect from normal behavior.

Questions About Awe and Amazement

  1. Which of the awe-inspiring acts in this book are also awful?
  2. Do you find Matilda's telekinesis or the Trunchbull's cruelty more amazing?
  3. Were you more amazed at the Wormwoods' parenting style or at Matilda's genius?
  4. Is Miss Honey's obedience to the Trunchbull amazing? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Matilda's spot on when she says that the Trunchbull is protected by her own outrageousness; the worse she treats other people, the more likely it is that no one will complain about it at all. They're just too scared.

What's most amazing about Matilda isn't the fact that she's a brainiac or a telekinetic; it's the fact that she always stands up for herself against way more powerful people, no matter how badly they treat her. Miss Honey could take some notes.

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