DAY 16 – FAVOURITE FEMALE CHARACTER
Matilda (Matilda, Roald Dahl)
Tiny little badass. Queen of my heart.
Before Harry Potter came along, my childhood reading was dominated by Roald Dahl. My father used to read The BFG to me, and I’ve listened to my Matilda audio book so many times when I was little that I can still recite certain chapters from memory. And then there was The Fantastic Mr Fox, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… Roald Dahl’s books are fundamentally strange, and, at times, downright uncomfortable to read in their cruelty and oddness, but at the same time, that’s what makes them utterly fascinating.
Matilda was a real hero for me, since I learned to read when I was still very young, and I became obsessed with books as I grew older. I read so speedily and so often that, after a couple of years, I had finished all of the children’s books in our village’s library. I truly identified with Matilda and her feelings of alienation and frustration.
Recently, I stumbled across the cast recording of Matilda The Musical (which is funny and heartfelt and so clever, and I highly recommend seeing the show if you have the chance or listening to the soundtrack). Listening to the song “Naughty,” I realized that Tim Minchin, who is a brilliant lyricist, managed to put into words exactly what makes Matilda such a great character:
Just because you find that life’s not fair, it
Doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it.
If you always take it on the chin and wear it,
You might as well be saying you think that it’s OK.
And that’s not right.
And if it’s not right, you have to put it right.
But nobody else is gonna put it right for me.
Nobody but me is gonna change my story.
Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.
Matilda shows us that your destiny is not written in stone, but that you have the power to change it, no matter how small and insignificant you feel. She teaches us that, just because someone is bigger and older and more powerful, that doesn’t mean that they’re always right or better than you. At first, Matilda is all alone in a world that treats her unfairly, but instead of letting it get to her, she takes control and gets up every time life tries to knock her down. She realizes that she doesn’t have a fairy godmother who will make everything better for her, and comes to the conclusion that if she wants things to change, she will have to do it herself.
Matilda embodies empowerment, and shows the reader that it’s okay to rebel when you feel that the status is not quo. This, to me, makes Matilda an important role model, and her story worth telling.
Hermione Granger (Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling)
What can I say? I love brainy women who don’t let anybody tell them what to do. In fact, this applies to my other choices as well:
Beatrice (Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare)
Becky Sharp (Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray)