Matilda Wormwood: Description & Character Analysis

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  • 0:04 Book Lover & Child Genius
  • 0:59 Matilda the Misfit
  • 1:35 A Champion for Justice
  • 2:15 Matilda the Heroine
  • 3:00 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.

Matilda Wormwood is a very special character! She is a child genius, friend, and champion for justice. Complete this lesson to find out what makes this small girl a giant force to be reckoned with in Roald Dahl's 'Matilda.'

Book Lover & Child Genius

Matilda Wormwood is the protagonist and title character in Roald Dahl's Matilda. A protagonist is the main character of a story. Matilda is smart - really, really smart. Her parents don't care a lick for books, but she teaches herself to read at 3 years old, and she's reading adult library books by the time she is 4 1/2 years old. When she begins school at 5 1/2 years old, she's able to do advanced reading and math.

But that's not all! Because Matilda is stuck in the bottom form (like kindergarten), she's not using all of her brain power for learning. So when Miss Trunchbull makes Matilda very angry by blaming her for putting a newt in her water, Matilda finds that she can use her brain for something else: telekinesis, which is the ability to move physical objects with your mind. Matilda uses her power to spill the glass - and the newt - onto Miss Trunchbull.

Matilda the Misfit

Matilda Wormwood is well liked by the other children, but she is clearly different. Marked by extreme intelligence, she enters school already having learned everything her class is being taught. She independently studies much higher level material.

While Matilda isn't quite like other children, she really doesn't fit in with her family. Her brother isn't described in detail, but we know that her parents do not care about education, honesty, or Matilda. Matilda, on the other hand, is appalled, or disgusted, by her parents' behavior. She loves to learn and thinks it's important to do the right thing.

A Champion for Justice

Matilda values honesty and doing the right thing: two qualities her father fails to possess. When Mr. Wormwood details how he tricks his customers by making cars appear as though they have only been driven fewer than 10,000 miles, Matilda voices her concerns. ''Matilda, who had been listening closely, said, 'But daddy, that's even more dishonest than the sawdust. It's disgusting. You're cheating people who trust you.''

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