Harry Wormwood: Description & Character Analysis

Instructor: Mary Evans

Mary has taught elementary school for six years and has a master's degree in education.

In Roald Dahl's 'Matilda', Matilda's father is not exactly a picture of good parenting. In fact, he might be a contender for World's Worst Dad! Read this lesson for a description and character analysis of Harry Wormwood.

Harry Wormwood, Secondhand Car Dealer

Matilda's father, Harry Wormwood, is quite a character. He is dishonest, stupid, and brash, or loud and obnoxious. While Matilda honors knowledge and truth, Mr. Wormwood values looks and money. He despises his only daughter and even tells Miss Trunchbull, the headmistress at school, that Matilda is certain to be trouble. Worst of all, he fails miserably as a parent and doesn't think twice about leaving Matilda with Miss Honey at the end of the book. While we all know Matilda is better off with her teacher, Mr. Wormwood's actions are still pretty awful.

Physical Description

Roald Dahl's description of Harry Wormwood is fantastic. ''Mr Wormwood was a small ratty-looking man whose front teeth stuck out underneath a thin ratty mustache. He liked to wear jackets with large brightly-colored checks and he sported ties that were usually yellow or pale green.'' Mr. Wormwood wears a pork-pie hat with a feather stuck in the band. For part of the book, his dark hair is accidentally dyed platinum blonde like his wife's hair. He is not an attractive man.

Mr. Wormwood wears a pork pie hat.
photo of grey pork pie hat

Character Trait: Dishonesty

One of Mr. Wormwood's proudest accomplishments is duping people into buying defective cars. He does this by greasing their motors with sawdust so they run well for a little while before breaking down. Another of his tricks is turning back the numbers on the odometer (tool that measures a car's mileage) so it appears that the cars have 10,000 miles instead of 100,000 miles. And as if these deeds are not dishonest enough, it turns out that many of the cars he sells are actually stolen! Dishonesty is Mr. Wormwood's chief characteristic.

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