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1-Page Summary of Matilda
Matilda Wormwood is a girl who is very smart. She can do complex math problems in her head, and read books meant for adults at an early age. Unfortunately, Matilda has grown up with parents who don’t pay attention to her or love her as much as she deserves. Her parents prefer watching television over reading books, and they don’t understand Matilda because of this.
Matilda is a girl who has been mistreated by her parents. She doesn’t want to feel hopeless, so she plays tricks on them to get back at them for the way they treat her. One trick involves replacing her father’s hair tonic with platinum hair dye, and another involved using a parrot to convince them that their house was haunted. These tricks gave Matilda some agency in the family dynamic, as well as distracted her parents from mistreating her.
Matilda starts school late for a girl her age, and is placed in the lowest form in Crunchem Hall Primary School. Matilda’s teacher, Miss Honey, immediately recognizes her potential to be great and wants to move her up to the highest form where she can maximize that potential. Unfortunately, though, Crunchem Hall is run by Miss Trunchbull who absolutely hates children and treats them horribly with punishments like the “Chokey,” which are thin closets with nails on all sides that students have to stand straight up in for hours when they misbehave.
Miss Trunchbull refuses to let Matilda move up a form, so Miss Honey keeps her in her class and helps her study. Meanwhile, the other students learn how to resist Miss Trunchbull’s rules. The worst thing she does is make Bruce Bogtrotter eat an entire cake on his own as punishment for eating a piece of hers. He doesn’t get sick or quit, however; he even eats it all!
Miss Trunchbull: “I’ll show you!”
Matilda: “You already did.”
Miss Trunchbull is a teacher who terrorizes the students with difficult math and spelling questions. She punishes them physically when they cannot answer her questions. Matilda’s friend Lavender places a newt in Miss Trunchbull’s water glass, sending her into a frenzy. She blames Matilda for placing it there even though she didn’t do it; this angers Matilda so much that she uses telekinesis to knock the glass over, dumping the newt onto Miss Trunchbull’s bosom.
Matilda was amazed by her new abilities and frightened at the same time. When she demonstrated them to Miss Honey, the teacher invited Matilda back to her cottage for tea. The author reveals that Miss Honey lives in a tiny house because she is poor, since her aunt takes all of her salary and leaves very little for herself. This terrible aunt is actually Miss Trunchbull, who used to be Matilda’s headmistress.
Matilda has an idea to get back at Miss Trunchbull and help Miss Honey. She practices her powers until she can make objects move in the air, and then when Miss Trunchbull comes into class one day, Matilda makes a piece of chalk move on its own and write a threatening message to her. Terrified that it’s from Magnus (Miss Honey’s deceased father), she leaves town for good.
When the will of Magnus is read, it turns out that he left Miss Honey his house. She moves in and becomes a frequent guest at Matilda’s home. The new head teacher puts Matilda in the highest class because her mind is challenged with hard work, so she loses her telekinetic powers. She discusses this change with Miss Honey and decides to move on from having those abilities.
When she gets home, Miss Honey sees her parents and brother in a frenzy because her father has finally been caught for selling stolen cars. Her family is moving to Spain because of this. Miss Honey offers to adopt Matilda so she can stay with her instead of going with them.