- The Reader of Books:
In this chapter the narrator showed us the difference between different types of parents: some parents, even if their own child is the most disgusting little beasts, they still think that he is wonderful or that their child has brilliant qualities. On the other hand, there are also mothers and fathers who underrate and do not appreciate their children’s brilliant qualities and intelligence.
Matilda was an extraordinary child with notable abilities, but her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood, were so wrapped in their lives that they did not notice anything unusual about their daughter. Matilda’s brother Michael, however, was a normal boy compared with his sister. Matilda taught herself to read at age three and one year later she already hankered after books.
As soon as Matilda read her mother’s cookbook, she asked her father if he could buy her a new book. Of course he told her, he would not. Given that Matilda was alone at home almost every day, she decided to walk to the public library in the village. There, she met Mrs. Phelps, who gave her lots of books to read and she was also amazed by Matilda’s qualities. After six months she had read all the children’s books and also 14 books for adults.
Little time later, Matilda visited the library once a week and borrowed the books, so that she could read them at home, in her little room.
- Wormwood, the Great Car Dealer:
Mr. Wormwood was a dealer in second-hand cars and he also did pretty well at it. The problem was that he earned money cheating. He sold cars with sawdust and he also drilled the mileage back with an electric drill, in order to sell all the cars. Matilda told her father already, that it was disgusting to earn money cheating, but Mr. Wormwood did not see any problems withit.
One evening, all the family was eating their supper in the living room in front of the television. Matilda asked if she could go in the dining room and read her books, while eating. Hereupon Mr. Wormwood became mad and yelled at her. Since that moment, Matilde decided that every time her father or her mother were mad to her, she would get her own back in some way. The first on her list was certainly her father.
- The Hat and the Superglue:
The following morning, before Mr. Wormwood left for work, Matilda took her father’s hat from the cloakroom. As soon as she reached the hat, she squeezed superglue all around its inside. Her father did not notice anything and put the hat on, but when he arrived at the garage he could not get it off. Mr. Wormwood tried almost all day long to get it off, but it was useless: he even could not get it off the next day, so his wife took a pair of scissors and cut the thing off his head.
However, it was a satisfactory exercise for Matilda and thanks to this, she taught her father a lesson.
- The Ghost:
After the Superglue episode, there was calm in the Wormwood household, but one day Matilda’s father was mad. As soon as he came home, he saw his daughter sitting on a chair while she was reading. Once he noticed this, he became even more angry, snatched the book from Matilda’s hands and began ripping the pages out of the book and throwing them into a basket.
Of course Matilda invented an appropriate punishment for her father: she borrowed her friend’s parrot Chopper for one night. She brought it in the dining room and hid him up in the chimney out of sight. That evening, while the family was having dinner, they heard strange noises from the dining room… They became scared, went into that room and kept looking around. After some time, for fear of the “ghost” they all left the dining room and went to bed.
The next afternoon Matilda returned the parrot to her friend and told him that all the family had a lovely time with the little parrot.
Matilda was very proud of the game she invented: in particular her father became less cocky for some days thanks to these little punishments.
The next episode came one evening, when Mr. Wormwood returned from work. He was very happy that evening, because he earned much money. At the end of the day he wanted that Michael to calculate the profit. The father told him all the amounts and given that Matilde heard them all, she calculated the sum arithmetically and gave Mr. Wormwood the exact result. But instead of praising her he yelled at her and said that she was a cheat and a liar.
- The Platinum-Blond Man:
Like in the past, also after this episode Matilda had to invent another punishment for her father.
As she knew, Mr. Wormwood loved his hair over all: he always used “oil of violets” to cure his strong black hair. Her mother instead, used to dye her hair and utilized a very strong shampoo called “Platinum Blonde Hair-Dye Extra Strong”.
One morning Matilda got up very early and went in the bathroom, where she mixed her father’s oil with her mother’s shampoo. As soon as she did this she went to breakfast and waited until Mr. Wormwood entered in the dining-room.
After some time, Mr. Wormwood came for breakfast and once his wife saw him, she screamed loudly. He did not grasp that reaction, but then he saw himself in the mirror and noticed that his hair colour was dirty silver.
Mr. Wormwood did not understand how this could had happened, so Matilda said that he probably inverted the shampoo bottles. After this, he took instantly an appointment at the hairdresser.
- Miss Honey:
At age five and a half Matilda finally started with primary school. She had a very nice teacher, Miss Honey, who loved all her students and was very kind and nice. The supreme commander, Miss Trunchbull, was the opposite of her: she was a gigantic holy terror.
Miss Honey was surprised by the beginning of Matilda’s qualities, because the little girl was like a little genius: she was like an arithmetic and was already able to read fluently. She was so amazed, that she wanted to go to Miss Trunchbull and tell her about this sensation.
- The Trunchbull:
During the break, Miss Honey headed straight for the Headmistress’s office. Normally she was terrified of Miss Trunchbull, but this time she made an exception.
Miss Honey wanted to talk with the headmistress about Matilda and about her qualities, but Miss Trunchbull did not show any interest. Instead, she said that Mr. Wormwood told her that Matilda was a beast and supposed that, the girl put a stink bomb under Miss Trunchbull’s desk in the morning.
Miss Honey tried to explain her that it was impossible that Matilda did something like that, but it was useless.
- The parents:
Given Miss Honey did not receive any support by Miss Trunchbull, she decided to wage something by herself. She wanted to help Matilda so she borrowed some books from senior class and gave them to her, so that she would not become bored during classes.
In the evening, Miss Honey went to Mr. Wormwood’s house to have the possibility to talk with Matilda’s parents about her abilities. As soon as she arrived there, she understood everything: she recognized that Mr and Mrs Wormwood did not show any interest for their daughter and that they would never send Matilda to university and so she left the house.
- Throwing the Hammer:
Already the first week, Matilda found a new friend called Lavender. One day, during lunch time the two met Hortensia, a tenyear-old girl who told them that they should pay attention to Miss Trunchbull. During the break she recounted them some episodes that happened after she made some jokes to the Headmistress. The worst punishment for the students was, when Miss Trunchbull put them in “The Chokey”. That was a very small room with cement walls full of broken glass and spikey nails so that nobody could lean on the walls. Inside the students could neither move because they would hurt if they did.
Given that Miss Trunchbull threw the hammer at the Olympics, she was very strong and used to throw the children like the hammer. The same thing happened this day: Miss Trunchbull saw a girl with two long braids. The problem was, that she detested braids and so she pulled the girl by her hair and threw her as far as she could, in the air.
- Bruce Bogtrotter and the Cake:
The students got another example of how dangerous the Headmistress could be on the next day: all the children had to gather in Assembly Hall, where they saw Miss Trunchbull on the platform. After some minutes, she selected Bruce Bogtrotter and called him out. She accused him, for having eaten one slice of her chocolate cake, which was made especially for herself. Given he stole her cake, she punished him in this way: he had to eat an entire gigantic chocolate cake, and could not leave the room before he ate the entire cake.
Nobody expected that he would eat all the cake, without becoming ill, at least Miss Trunchbull, but at the end he did it.
In the first school week, Miss Honey said to the whole class, that Miss Trunchbull would make a lesson in their class every Thursday afternoon.
For this reason, the children should prepare everything for that day: they had to be clean, not argue with the Headmistress, never answer back and so on. Another important thing, they should remember was to study spelling and the two-times table. In addition one student, Lavender, would have to bring a jug of water and a glass into the classroom before she entered.
That evening, Lavender went to her pond and caught a newt; the next day she went into the class and put the newt in the Headmistress jug…
- The Weekly Test:
At two o’ clock Miss Trunchbull entered the class and began immediately to control if the students’ hands were clean. Nigel Hicks hands were dirty, and so she made him stand in the corner on one leg with his face on the wall. She asked him also to spell a word and fortunately he spelled it correctly.
Later she picked out another student, called Rupert and asked him what two sevens was; he did not answer in the correct way, and so she grabbed him from his hair and swung him in the air. Later she left him on the floor and let him sit on his chair.
The next one was Eric Ink: he asked her a strange question and spelled a word in the false way… so she grabbed him from his ears and lifted him in the air.
After these episodes Miss Trunchbull said, that she detested that children because they could not even read and so Matilda stood up and told her that she was a very good reader. But the Headmistress was not glad about that, cause she hated clever kids and told Matilda that she would keep an eye on her…
- The First Miracle:
The lesson went on, and as soon as Miss Trunchbull wanted to put some water in her glass she let out a yell because a newt fell into it. In a little while she became mad as hell and yelled at Matilda, accusing her for this joke. Matilda tried to convince the Headmistress, that it was not her plan, but it was useless.
So Matilda became as angry as she ever was before, and suddenly she felt a strange power in her eyes, while she stared at the glass on the desk. Her only thought was: “Tip it over!” and after some time, without even touching it, the glass fell and the water splashed on Miss Trunchbull.
The Headmistress became even angrier and wanted to accuse Matilda again, but everybody screamed that it was impossible, that she did this without touching anything and so Trunchbull left the class.
- The Second Miracle:
Matilda could not yet believe what happened before and when she was alone with Miss Honey, she decided to tell her what happened. At the beginning also Miss Honey did not believe this story, but then Matilda gave another try and the glass toppled again. The two could not believe it and so they decided to examine better what happened, at Miss Honey’s cottage.
- Miss Honey’s Cottage:
After school Matilda and Miss Honey went at Miss Honey’s cottage, to talk a bit about what had happened in class…
Miss Honey’s cottage was at the other side of the village, and it was a very small house, like those in the fairy tales. She did not have many things inside, there was no water and she had only few things for lunch and dinner: in fact Miss Honey was very poor.
Miss Honey and Matilda were wondering what the little girl would be able to do with this power and of course they wanted to find it out.
- Miss Honey’s Story:
After some cups of tea Matilda asked Miss Honey if she was the only one, who didn’t receive much money, and she answered that she was. But it was fine for her, because she did not need more than what she had available.
After a while Miss Honey told Matilda a story, her story:
“Miss Honey was twenty-three years old and her mother died when she was two. Her father, a busy doctor, had to have someone to look after his daughter. He invited her aunt, her mother’s sister. Miss Honey hated this woman since the beginning, she was terrible with her and in front of the father she was different.
When Miss Honey was five, her father died very suddenly and so she was left all alone with her terrible aunt. Her aunt was horrible to her, and Miss Honey choked by her. She had to do everything for her aunt in the house and if she did not, she would be punished.
Now that Miss Honey was older, she found a house where she could live but she had to pay back everything to her aunt, who lived in her father’s house. That was the reason why she was so poor.
Even if it was not fair, that the aunt owned the house, Miss Honey could not do anything, because the woman was too powerful. In fact, her aunt was MISS TRUNCHBULL.”
- The Names:
As soon as Matilda guessed, that Miss Trunchbull was her aunt she was shocked and after that she could not even think clearly. So Miss Honey decided to accompany her back home.
Before Matilda entered her home she wanted to know how Miss Trunchbull called her father, and the teacher told her that she called him Magnus. Her father however, called her Agatha and all together called Miss Honey Jenny…
- The Practice:
Matilda found the house empty, when she got back home and so she went straight to her room. There she practiced to move a cigar with her eyes, like she did with the water glass. In contrast to the last try, this time she tried also to lift it and to make it move in the air. After some attempts she succeeded and became so tired that she fell asleep.
- The Third Miracle:
The next day was Thursday, and Miss Trunchbull would again have a lesson. After lunch, she entered the class and began to ask the three-times table backwards. Given Wilfred did not recite it in the right order, she picked him up with a Karate-move and held him in the air.
Suddenly a chalk began to write something on the blackboard, even if nobody touched it; everybody stared at it with gigantic eyes. Nobody knew that Matilda caused it and so she wrote:
“Agatha, this is Magnus
This is Magnus.
It is Magnus
And you’d better believe it.
Agatha, give my Jenny back her house.
Give my Jenny her wages
Give my Jenny the house
Then get out of here.
If you don’t I will come and get you
I will come and get you like you got me.
I am watching you Agatha.”
The chalk stopped writing and fell on the floor and also Miss Trunchbull had fallen down. They called the school-doctor and took her to the medical’s practice.
After this all the students left the room and Miss Honey thanked Matilda for what she did.
- A New Home:
The next morning, Mr Trilby, the Deputy Head, telephoned Miss Trunchbull but she did not answer the phone. So he went to her house, but it was empty, without any clothes or shoes inside… Miss Trunchbull was definitely gone.
Miss Honey finally moved in her father’s house and inherited also his money. Since that day, she lived in that house and Matilda went visiting her every day. Something strange also happened to her: after what she did with the chalk she lost her power, to move things with her eyes.
Later in the evening, Matilda went back home, where she saw something terrible: her parents were packing, because they wanted to leave the country and move to Spain. The little girl did not want to leave, so she fetched Miss Honey to help her. She wanted to live with Miss Honey, instead of leaving with her family, because of their problems with the law. Given her family did not care about her, they let her stay with Miss Honey.
Since that, Matilda kept on living with Miss Honey and they were never as happy as then.
At the beginning I thought, that this was just a children’s book, but it is also a good book for adults and I liked it anyway. It is a very nice book and understanding was not too difficult.
I liked the story very much, because it was exciting and fascinating.
Roald Dahl was born in 1916, in South Wales. In 1953, he published the story collection Someone Like You and married an actress. In 1961 he published the popular book James and the Giant Peach and in 1964, he released another highly successful work, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Over his long writing career, Dahl wrote 19 children’s books. He died on November 23, 1990, in Oxford, England.
(c) Anna Costa