Matilda Figurative Language

Instructor: Norman Staggs

Matthew has taught elementary and middle school for 13 years. He has an Ed.S in teacher leadership. He has taught general, special, and gifted education classes.

'Matilda' by Roald Dahl contains several examples of figurative language. In this lesson, we will explore the meaning of figurative language, why authors use it, and two common types found throughout 'Matilda'.

What is Figurative Language?

Sometimes you may need help expressing what you mean so that others understand what you are trying to say. You are not alone. Authors and writers feel the same way at times. That is where figurative language comes in handy.

Figurative language is language that you need to figure out. In other words, the meaning of the words are not as you would find them in a dictionary. With figurative language, the author leaves room for the reader to interpret, or understand, the meaning.

Authors, writers, and even you can use figurative language as a way of joining or expressing an idea that is not easily understood or clear to the reader with one that is more easily understood or clear. Figurative language helps to add interest to one's writing and to hold a reader's attention.

Figurative Language in Matilda

In Matilda, there are several types of figurative language used to help the reader visualize, or picture in your mind, what is happening in a particular chapter or scene.


The most common type of figurative language that is used in Matilda is the simile. A simile is when two unlike things, ideas, or situations are compared to one another using either ''like'' or ''as.'' Some examples of similes are: fast as lightning, hung his head like a dying flower, quiet as a mouse, cold as ice.

As cold as ice is a simile.
ice cube

Some examples of similes from Matilda:

  • ''You could almost feel the dangerous heat radiating from her as a red-hot rod of metal.''
  • ''If a group of children happened to be in her path, she ploughed right on through them like a tank.''
  • ''When she marched - Miss Trunchbull never walked, she always marched like a storm-trooper with long strides and arms aswinging ...''

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