Matilda Symbolism

Instructor: Nora Jarvis

Nora has a Master's degree in teaching, and has taught a variety of elementary grades.

Roald Dahl's ''Matilda'' is rife with symbolism, whether it's the the books that provide relief to Matilda, the newt that is part of Matilda's pranks, or the miracles of her telekinesis. This lesson discusses the symbolism throughout Dahl's classic book.

Matilda Symbolism

The last book Roald Dahl wrote, Matilda, is about a young genius who lives at the mercy of her parents and the nasty headmistress of her school, Miss Trunchbull. Throughout the book, Matilda discovers that her genius abilities have given her the ability to move objects with her mind, otherwise called telekinesis.

Dahl uses symbolism to represent several different ideas in his book. Dahl uses books to represent escapes, miracles to represent Matilda's wasted genius, and a newt to show ugly ignorance.

The Books

Matilda is a young girl who lives with her mean parents and goes to school with her even meaner headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. For Matilda, her only escape are the books she reads. Matilda reads books that are way beyond what most young children can read: ''By the time she was three, Matilda had taught herself to read by studying newspapers and magazines that lay around the house. At the age of four, she could read fast and well, and she naturally began hankering after books.''

Matilda uses books as any escape from her difficult life. Books are a symbol of Matilda's escape from her terrible reality. They give her a chance to pretend that her life isn't run by horrible adults.

Matilda uses books as an escape from her difficult life

The Miracles

When Miss Honey learns about Matilda's telekinesis, she refers to Matilda's powers as miracles. For Catholics, a person must do three miracles before they become a saint. How many miracles does Matilda complete? Well, the chapter titles explain exactly how many: ''The First Miracle,'' ''The Second Miracle,'' and ''The Third Miracle.''

The miracles become a symbol to represent Matilda's inherent goodness in the face of the cruel Miss Trunchbull. Dahl might be suggesting that Matilda and her three miracles have made her qualify as a saint.

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