Matilda

by

Roald Dahl

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Hortensia Character Analysis

Hortensia is an older girl at Crunchem Hall Primary School. She’s not particularly attractive, as she eats chips greedily and has a huge boil on her nose. But this ceases to matter to Matilda and Lavender as Hortensia tells them all about the pranks she’s pulled on Miss Trunchbull. Hortensia has done things like putting syrup on Miss Trunchbull’s chair, or putting itching powder in her knickers. And for these transgressions, Miss Trunchbull has locked Hortensia in the Chokey, a narrow closet with broken glass and sharp nails embedded in the walls (a person in the Chokey has to stand straight upright or risk getting cut). As Hortensia tells the younger girls about her exploits, she turns into a goddess in their eyes and inspires Lavender to put a newt in Miss Trunchbull’s water jug.

Hortensia Quotes in Matilda

The Matilda quotes below are all either spoken by Hortensia or refer to Hortensia. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Adults, Children, and Power Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Puffin Books edition of Matilda published in 2007.
Chapter 8 Quotes

“I have discovered, Miss Honey, during my long career as a teacher that a bad girl is a far more dangerous creature than a bad boy. What’s more, they’re much harder to squash. Squashing a bad girl is like trying to squash a bluebottle. You bang down on it and the darn thing isn’t there. Nasty little things, little girls are.”

Page Number: 85-86
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

Both Matilda and Lavender were enthralled. It was quite clear to them that they were at this moment standing in the presence of a master. Here was somebody who had brought the art of skullduggery to the highest point of perfection, somebody, moreover, who was willing to risk life and limb in pursuit of her calling.

Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

Already Lavender’s scheming mind was going over the possibilities that this water-jug job had opened up for her. She longed to do something truly heroic. She admired the older girl Hortensia to distraction for the daring deeds she had performed in the school. She also admired Matilda who had sworn her to secrecy about the parrot job she had brought off at home, and also the great hair-oil switch which had bleached her father’s hair. It was her turn now to become a heroine if only she could come up with a brilliant plot.

Page Number: 136
Explanation and Analysis:
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Hortensia Character Timeline in Matilda

The timeline below shows where the character Hortensia appears in Matilda. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10. Throwing the Hammer
Adults, Children, and Power Theme Icon
The Power of Fighting Injustice Theme Icon
...morning, when Matilda and Lavender are on the playground for morning break, a 10-year-old named Hortensia welcomes them and asks if they’ve met “the Trunchbull” yet. Hortensia warns the girls that... (full context)
Adults, Children, and Power Theme Icon
Education and Opportunity Theme Icon
Family, Institutions, and Chosen Family Theme Icon
The Power of Fighting Injustice Theme Icon
Hortensia says she’s been in the Chokey a bunch, six times her first term. It’s terrible.... (full context)
Adults, Children, and Power Theme Icon
Lavender wants to know what else Hortensia did to get time in the Chokey, but Hortensia nonchalantly says she doesn’t remember. She... (full context)
Adults, Children, and Power Theme Icon
Family, Institutions, and Chosen Family Theme Icon
The Power of Fighting Injustice Theme Icon
Lavender and Matilda are in awe of Hortensia, who’s clearly a master and dedicated to her craft. Hortensia explains that the Trunchbull never... (full context)
Adults, Children, and Power Theme Icon
Matilda and Lavender ask for another story, so Hortensia tells them about a boy named Julius Rottwinkle. He was eating during scripture class, so... (full context)
Adults, Children, and Power Theme Icon
Family, Institutions, and Chosen Family Theme Icon
Women, Financial Security, and Ethics Theme Icon
...loud playground goes silent. Miss Trunchbull is striding across the playground, shouting for Amanda Thripp. Hortensia whispers that Amanda has made the mistake of letting her hair grow long, and then... (full context)
Adults, Children, and Power Theme Icon
Women, Financial Security, and Ethics Theme Icon
...before throwing her into the playing field. Matilda asks if the parents ever complain, but Hortensia says parents are afraid of the Trunchbull, too. (full context)
Chapter 12. Lavender
Adults, Children, and Power Theme Icon
Family, Institutions, and Chosen Family Theme Icon
The Power of Fighting Injustice Theme Icon
Lavender’s mind is spinning. She wants to be heroic like Hortensia, and Matilda has already told Lavender about stuffing the parrot in her parents’ chimney and... (full context)