‘Matilda’ by Roald Dahl mapped to The Hero’s Journey – Exercise 1

I choose a short novel by Roald Dahl, Matilda, to map onto the Hero’s Journey first because I love this author and my kids simply adored this particular story,  it does not look too complex for a first attempt and last but not least because the heroin of the story is a voracious reader and this makes her a perfect choice for a section about creative reading I think!

So here is my attempt.

Act I (Beginning: the hero’s decision to act)

1. Ordinary World

Matilda, a very clever and precocious child of only five years, lives with her horrible stupid parents who do not understand, value, or even notice her and her incredible talents. She is totally neglected and ignored by them.

2. Call to Adventure

After teaching herself to read at three, one day she goes to the local library where she meets Mrs. Phelps, a sympathetic and kind librarian, who introduces her first to the children books and then to adult literature.

3. Refusal of the Call

Matilda does not refuse the call, instead she immediately and enthusiastically answers to it. For her the discovery of books is a total turnaround, she gains more and more knowledge and control of her life at home, starting to play terrible tricks on her stupid parents.

4. Meeting with the Mentor

On her first day at school she meets her teacher, Miss Honey, a very special person who understands Matilda’s nature and exceptional talents and who courageously sets out to help her in any way she can. At the same time Matilda and her school mates are told that they must beware of Miss Trunchball, the scary and evil headmistress.

5. Crossing of the First Threshold

Matilda shows to a bewildered Miss Honey how good she is at math (she knows all the multiplication tables and beyond), how she has already read an incredible number of difficult books and even makes up a limerick  about Miss Honey. The teacher has no more doubts, this little girl is a true genius and she must convince the headmistress to move her up from the first class.

Act II (Middle: the action)

6. Tests, Allies, Enemies

The terrible headmistress does not even listen to what the teacher has to say and absolutely refuses. Miss Honey does not give up and she presents Matilda with advanced textbooks that she can study during regular school time. Miss Honey also goes and visits Matilda’s parents to speak about their exceptional daughter and find with them a way to help her. But to her dismay they are both very rude and incredibly stupid and, like the headmistress, don’t pay her the slightest attention.

Matilda meets other children and makes new friends: her best friend Lavender, the older and brave children Hortensia and Bruce Bogtrotter who both dare to defy Miss Trunchball.

Her worst enemies are her parents, Mr and Mrs Wormwood, and above all her antagonist Miss Trunchball.

7. Approach to the Inmost Cave

Through the stories told by Hortensia about the headmistress and the terrible experiences lived by other children and especially by Bruce, Matilda prepares herself to tackle her enemy.

8. Ordeal

And finally comes the day of the ordeal and Matilda defeats Miss Trunchball through her newly acquired telekinetic powers.

9. Reward

Miss Honey invites Matilda to have tea in her little fable-like cottage and tells her the painful story of her life. Now it’s Matilda’s turn to help.

Act III (End: the consequences of action)

10. The Road Back

Matilda leaves Miss Honey and goes back to her Ordinary World, but only to get prepared to a final confrontation with the headmistress and save Miss Honey from her sad situation.

11. Resurrection

The final trial is extremely difficult, the battle is harsh and Matilda uses her telekinetic powers for the last time and to the best of her capacity. Miss Trunchball is defeated and leaves the village and her house to Miss Honey who was the legitimate heir to it.

12. Return with the Elixir

Matilda’s parents make a hasty departure to Spain because the police are after his father and with all her enemies out of the way Matilda can finally live with Miss Honey in her new house.


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