Matilda by Roald Dahl Quotes

Instructor: Audrey Akins

Audrey has more than a decade of experience teaching elementary. She has a bachelor's in journalism and a master's in education.

In the story 'Matilda', you'll learn what's important to characters such as Matilda, her father, Mr. Wormwood, and her mother, Mrs. Wormwood. Quotes from the story give readers a clear picture of how these characters think.

Matilda's Opinion of the World

Matilda experiences a lot throughout the book Matilda, from neglectful parents to discovering a new world of friends in school. She even finds a home with her teacher Miss Honey after her parents voluntarily leave her behind. And she's only five years old!

Very early in the book, Matilda's level of high intelligence is revealed, and the tone is set that her parents have no idea how smart she is and don't care. She is a little girl responsible for her own growth and development. ''Her mind was so nimble and she was so quick to learn that her ability should have been obvious even to the most half-witted parents.''

Along with a smart mind, Matilda is also very insightful when she explains to her friend Lavender why Miss Trunchbull can get away with treating children so terribly. The basic reason is that no one would believe the things that Miss Trunchbull does because they are so unbelievable. ''Your story would sound too ridiculous to be believed. And that is the Trunchbull's great secret. Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it's unbelievable.''

Harry Wormwood's View of the World

Harry Wormwood is a dishonest man and believes in running his business in whatever way necessary, as long as he makes money. He doesn't feel any guilt for the things he does to sell cars, such as putting sawdust in the engine or rolling the speedometer back. ''No one ever got rich being honest ... customers are there to be diddled.'' When Harry Wormwood diddled customers, he cheated them out of their money by selling them a car that wasn't any good.

In terms of his feelings for Matilda, he really doesn't care much about her or what she's interested in. ''Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood looked forward enormously to the time when they could pick their little daughter off and flick her away, preferably into the next county or even further than that.''

When Matilda expresses interest in reading books and wants her father to buy her a book, Mr. Wormwood responds in an unsupportive manner. ''What do you want a flaming book for? ... What's wrong with the telly? ... We've got a lovely telly with a twelve-inch screen and now you come asking for a book!''

By the end of the book, Mr. Wormwood acts on his early thoughts of getting rid of Matilda when she wants to stay behind to live with Miss Honey. ''If she wants to stay, let her stay. It's fine with me.''

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