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An extraordinarily gifted five-year-old girl who is the book’s protagonist. Matilda lives with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood, and older brother Michael. She excels at reading and math and is strikingly unassuming and humble given her brilliance. She has a strong moral code and is acutely attuned to right versus wrong and the injustice of being accused of something she hasn’t done. She is a good judge of a person’s character and what is fair and just.
Read an in-depth analysis of Matilda Wormwood.
Matilda’s teacher. Her students love and adore her. Miss Honey recognizes Matilda’s brilliance. She becomes Matilda’s ally, and advocates for Matilda when she visits the Wormwoods’ home. She tells the story of her childhood to Matilda, revealing the cruelty she has endured living with Miss Trunchbull, who is her aunt. In the end, Miss Honey convinces the Wormwoods that she will care for Matilda as her own child.
Read an in-depth analysis of Miss Honey.
The headmistress of the school. She is a physically imposing woman, violent, and cruel. Her educational philosophy is one based on punishment rather than reward. Despite this, the children at the school, including Matilda, stand up to her. Miss Trunchbull’s persona crumbles when Matilda reveals the evils of her past.
Read an in-depth analysis of Miss Trunchbull.
Matilda’s father and a crooked used-car salesman. He is cruel toward Matilda and considers her “nothing more than a scab,” to be picked and flung away. Matilda’s brilliance serves to spotlight his own stupidity. Her honesty and sense of fairness highlight his crookedness and dishonesty.
Read an in-depth analysis of Mr. Wormwood.
Matilda’s classmate and friend. She is brave and develops a rebellious spirit like Matilda and Hortensia, a senior class student. She is clever, as evidenced when she puts the newt in Miss Trunchbull’s water jug.
The librarian who initially encourages Matilda to read children’s books. She eventually recognizes Matilda’s ability, sets her up with a library card, and recommends adult books for her to read, beginning with Great Expectations.
Matilda’s mother. She fails to recognize Matilda’s brilliance, and is more interested in playing Bingo every afternoon, heating up TV dinners for her family, and watching television. She laughs with Matilda and ridicules her husband in the hair dye scene without realizing it was Matilda’s prank.
Matilda’s older brother. Though older than Matilda, he is not nearly as bright. His father wants him to take over the used car business one day.
A senior girl at the school. She tells Lavender and Matilda stories about Miss Trunchbull and, with the other students, tries to stand up against the headmistress’s cruelty.
An overweight boy in Matilda’s class who becomes the object of Miss Trunchbull’s cruelty. When Miss Trunchbull wants to force him to eat a whole cake, believing that he can’t, he proves her wrong. After he finishes the cake and the class explodes in celebration, Miss Trunchbull explodes in rage. He is a hero for standing up to her.