Matilda Literary Elements


Children's Fantasy/Comedy

Setting and Context

A Small English Village, Crunchem Hall Primary School

Narrator and Point of View

First Person Peripheral Narrator - the narrator is not a mentioned figure in the story but he states his opinions at times.

Tone and Mood

Humorous and lighthearted with elements of despair and sadness.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Matilda Wormwood is the main protagonist. Harry and Zinnia Wormwood and Miss Trunchbull are the main antagonists.

Major Conflict

The conflict between children and cruel, oppressive adults is consistent throughout the novel. It is first seen in the relationship between Matilda and her parents, who often come into conflict because of Matilda's desire to study and educate herself. The conflict continues with Miss Trunchbull and the children of Crunchem Hall Primary School. Children such as Lavender and Matilda believe the headmistress is a bully and needs a dose of her own medicine.


The climax is when Matilda uses her telekinetic powers to scare Miss Trunchbull into returning Miss Honey's house and wages and leaving the area. Matilda's plan rids the school of the oppressive headmistress, allowing someone who truly cares about education to take over the position.


The tricks Matilda plays on her parents to punish their cruel behavior foreshadow Matilda's actions with the chalk used to punish Miss Trunchbull.


When Miss Honey understates the viciousness of her aunt's treatment of her, but Matilda sees the full extent of her cruelty in action through her treatment of the students at Crunchem.


Dahl alludes to many well-known novels and authors to show the reader how intelligent and well-read Matilda is. Some of the authors Dahl alludes to are Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Earnest Hemingway, and William Faulkner. The first adult book Matilda reads is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.


Crunchem Hall is described using very dark imagery, in particular the torture device of the Chokey that Ms Trunchbull uses. However, other imagery, while representing difficult situations, is lighter and more humor-filled, such as the antics at Matilda's home.




Ms. Trunchbull is similar to a dictator in the way that she maintains her authoritarian rule at Crunchem. Her cruel forms of discipline are further evidence of her intimidating style.

Metonymy and Synecdoche