Matilda by Roald Dahl Setting

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  • 0:04 Setting Defined
  • 0:25 The Where
  • 1:53 The When
  • 3:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Evans

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

To really understand a story, it helps to understand its setting. This can allow readers to create their own mental pictures as they read. In this lesson, you will learn about the setting of 'Matilda' by Roald Dahl.

Setting Defined

One of the best ways to understand and enjoy a book is by imagining the events in the story like a mental movie. To do this, a reader must understand the setting. Setting refers to the story's time and place. If you can get a grip on 'when' and 'where' the story happens, then it is much easier to imagine!

The 'Where'

Matilda takes place in an English village, and more specifically, at Matilda's home, school, and briefly, at Miss Honey's cottage in the country. In the village, there is one school for children ages five to almost twelve years old, a public library, a grocery store, a butcher, and a bank. All of these are close enough that Matilda can walk to them from her house. Matilda lives with her parents in a nice two-story, three-bedroom house, with a kitchen, living room and dining room on the main floor.

Crunchem Hall Primary School, a place of great wonder and horror, is dominated by Miss Trunchbull, the headmistress. Matilda's classroom, taught by Miss Honey, is a peaceful enough place, except for the one hour per week that Miss Trunchbull takes over. Then, it is just as terrifying as The Trunchbull's office, which is home to a terror contraption called 'the chokey.' The chokey is a tall box for misbehaving children that is covered on the inside with shards of glass and spiked nails so the occupant cannot lean over or sit down. There are also scenes in the schoolyard and the school's assembly hall.

Miss Honey's cottage is not like Matilda's home at all. It is small, has no running water, no real furniture to speak of, only two small windows in the front, and not even a bed for Miss Honey! It is an old farm laborer's cottage, and the landlord himself is surprised that Miss Honey thought she could live in it. To Miss Honey, though, it is a safe haven and a very pleasant place.

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