Child Giftedness as Class Weaponry: The Case of Roald Dahl’s Matilda

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JournalChildren's Literature Association Quarterly
DateAccepted/In press - 2014
DatePublished (current) - 2015
Issue number3
Original languageEnglish


Roald Dahl’s Matilda (1988) is one of the most entrancing accounts in children’s literature of the changes that passionate educators, good literature, and an intrepid disposition can bring to the life of a child whose home environment is not conducive to learning. However, the novel rests on a denunciation and caricature of a specific socioeconomic category and its practices: the petty bourgeoisie. This class-based antipathy, this article argues, goes mostly unnoticed because it is filtered through an alluring portrayal of Matilda’s giftedness that justifies condescension toward the Wormwoods and what they stand for.

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