Matilda

by

Roald Dahl

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Miss Honey is the first form teacher at Crunchem Hall Primary School. She’s thin and pretty, like a “porcelain doll.” And though she doesn’t smile much, she still has a way with children—all her students adore her, including Matilda. Miss Honey is shocked when she discovers that Matilda has already read Charles Dickens, can perform complex mental math, and can compose limericks on the spot. Realizing that Matilda needs far more than what Miss Honey can give her, Miss Honey attempts to get Matilda moved into a higher form. When the headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, refuses, Miss Honey decides to give Matilda upper-level textbooks so she can study independently. She also tries to convince Mr. Wormwood and Mrs. Wormwood to get Matilda private tutoring so that Matilda can attend university, but the Wormwoods insult Miss Honey—choosing education like Miss Honey did, they insist, isn’t what women should do with their lives. Miss Honey is very shy and quiet, particularly around Miss Trunchbull, but she does try to advocate for her students’ health and safety when Miss Trunchbull teaches her classes one afternoon per week. After Matilda shares with Miss Honey the news of her strange power and Miss Honey shows Matilda that she lives in a tiny farm laborer’s cottage, Miss Honey agrees to share her story. Her parents died when she was little, and before Miss Honey’s father’s death, he asked his sister-in-law to care for Miss Honey. That sister-in-law was none other than Miss Trunchbull, and Miss Trunchbull abused and frightened Miss Honey at every turn. In the present, because of the abuse she suffered, Miss Honey is far too frightened to advocate for herself in any way—so Miss Trunchbull takes almost all of Miss Honey’s salary and currently lives in the Honey family’s home. Matilda uses her power to frighten Miss Trunchbull into leaving forever and giving Miss Honey back her house and family fortune. Matilda and Miss Honey become close friends after this—and when Matilda’s family moves to Spain, her parents agree to let Matilda stay with Miss Honey.

Miss Honey Quotes in Matilda

The Matilda quotes below are all either spoken by Miss Honey or refer to Miss Honey. 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 7 Quotes

“Matilda is a very lucky girl. She has wonderful parents who have already taught her to multiply lots of numbers. Was it your mother, Matilda, who taught you?”

“No, Miss Honey, it wasn’t.”

“You must have a great father then. He must be a brilliant teacher.”

“No, Miss Honey,” Matilda said quietly. “My father did not teach me.”

Related Characters: Miss Honey (speaker), Matilda Wormwood (speaker), Mr. Wormwood, Mrs. Wormwood
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

Now most head teachers are chosen because they possess a number of fine qualities. They understand children and they have the children’s best interests at heart. They are sympathetic. They are fair and they are deeply interested in education. Miss Trunchbull possessed none of these qualities and how she got her present job was a mystery.

Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

“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:
9 Quotes

She was deciding that she would go herself and have a secret talk with Matilda’s mother and father as soon as possible. She simply refused to let the matter rest where it was. The whole thing was ridiculous. She couldn’t believe that the parents were totally unaware of their daughter’s remarkable talents. After all, Mr Wormwood was a successful motor-car dealer so she presumed that he was a fairly intelligent man himself. In any event, parents never underestimated the abilities of their own children. Quite the reverse.

Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

“A girl should think about making herself look attractive so she can get a good husband later on. Looks is more important than books, Miss Hunky…”

“The name is Honey,” Miss Honey said.

“Now look at me,” Mrs Wormwood said. “Then look at you. You chose books. I chose looks.”

Miss Honey looked at the plain plump person with the smug suet-pudding face who was sitting across the room. “What did you say?” she asked.

“I said you chose books and I chose looks,” Mrs Wormwood said. “And who’s finished up the better off? Me, of course. I’m sitting pretty in a nice house with a successful businessman and you’re left slaving away teaching a lot of nasty little children the ABC.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Wormwood (speaker), Miss Honey (speaker), Mr. Wormwood, Matilda Wormwood
Page Number: 97-98
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

“How perfectly ridiculous!” snorted the Trunchbull. “Why are all these women married? And anyway you’re not meant to teach poetry when you’re teaching spelling. Cut it out in future, Miss Honey.”

“But it does teach them some of the harder words wonderfully well,” Miss Honey murmured.

“Don’t argue with me, Miss Honey!” The Headmistress thundered. “Just do as you’re told!”

Related Characters: Miss Trunchbull (speaker), Miss Honey (speaker), Nigel, Mrs. Wormwood
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

What she needed was just one person, one wise and sympathetic grown-up who could help her to understand the meaning of this extraordinary happening.

Related Symbols: Matilda’s Power
Page Number: 170
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

“I myself,” Miss Honey said, “am probably far more bowled over by what you did than you are, and I am trying to find some reasonable explanation.”

“Such as what?” Matilda asked.

“Such as whether or not it’s got something to do with the fact that you are quite exceptionally precocious.”

“What exactly does that word mean?” Matilda said.

“A precocious child,” Miss Honey said, “is one that shows amazing intelligence early on. You are an unbelievably precocious child.”

Related Characters: Miss Honey (speaker), Matilda Wormwood (speaker)
Related Symbols: Matilda’s Power
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

“I think what I am trying to explain to you,” she said, “is that over the years I became so completely cowed and dominated by this monster of an aunt that when she gave me an order, no matter what it was, I obeyed it instantly. That can happen, you know. And by the time I was ten, I had become her slave. I did all the housework. I made her bed. I washed and ironed for her. I did all the cooking. I learned how to do everything.”

“But surely you could’ve complained to somebody?” Matilda asked.

“To whom?” Miss Honey said. “And anyway, I was far too terrified to complain.”

Related Characters: Miss Honey (speaker), Matilda Wormwood (speaker), Miss Trunchbull
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:

“You shouldn’t have done that,” Matilda said. “Your salary was your chance of freedom.”

“I know, I know,” Miss Honey said. “But by then I had been her slave nearly all my life and I hadn’t the courage or the guts to say no. I was still petrified of her. She could still hurt me badly.”

Related Characters: Matilda Wormwood (speaker), Miss Honey (speaker), Miss Trunchbull
Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

“While you were in my class you had nothing to do, nothing to make you struggle. Your fairly enormous brain was going crazy with frustration. It was bubbling and boiling away like mad inside your head. There was tremendous energy bottled up in there with nowhere to go, and somehow or other you were able to shoot that energy out through your eyes and make objects move. But now things are different. You are in the top form competing against children more than twice your age and all that mental energy is being used up in class. Your brain is for the first time having to struggle and strive and keep really busy, which is great.”

Related Characters: Miss Honey (speaker), Matilda Wormwood
Related Symbols: Matilda’s Power
Page Number: 129-130
Explanation and Analysis:

Matilda leapt into Miss Honey’s arms and hugged her, and Miss Honey hugged her back, and then the mother and father and brother were inside the car and the car was pulling away with the tyres screaming. The brother gave a wave through the rear window, but the other two didn’t even look back.

Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:
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Miss Honey Character Timeline in Matilda

The timeline below shows where the character Miss Honey appears in Matilda. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7. Miss Honey
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Family, Institutions, and Chosen Family Theme Icon
...lady” named Miss Trunchbull. Matilda is in the lowest class, which a young woman named Miss Honey teaches. Miss Honey is lovely, slim, and looks fragile—she’s “like a porcelain figure.” She’s also... (full context)
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Back in Miss Honey ’s classroom, Miss Honey asks her students for their names and passes out their exercise... (full context)
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Miss Honey asks Matilda to stop, then she asks Matilda if she knows two times 28 and... (full context)
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Miss Honey is shivery; Matilda is obviously a genius. She lies and assures the other students that... (full context)
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Miss Honey offers Matilda a book of funny poetry and asks her to read a poem. Matilda... (full context)
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...does Tolkien, and Matilda thinks children’s books should be funny—children aren’t serious like adults are. Miss Honey is astounded, especially when Matilda says she also loves Charles Dickens. (full context)
Chapter 8. The Trunchbull
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During the first break, Miss Honey heads for Miss Trunchbull’s study. Matilda obviously needs to be moved up since she’s so... (full context)
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When Miss Honey enters Miss Trunchbull’s study, Miss Trunchbull asks if the “little stinkers” have been flicking spitballs... (full context)
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Finally, Miss Honey tells Miss Trunchbull why she came: Matilda isn’t awful. Matilda is a genius. This word... (full context)
Chapter 9. The Parents
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First, Miss Honey goes around to the upper-level teachers to borrow textbooks on geometry, literature, and French. Then... (full context)
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As she teaches the other students, Miss Honey decides that she must speak with Matilda’s parents. Mr. Wormwood has such a successful business... (full context)
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So after nine that evening, Miss Honey walks to Matilda’s house and rings the doorbell. She can hear the TV inside. A... (full context)
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Mr. Wormwood leads Miss Honey to the living room, where Mrs. Wormwood continues to stare at the TV. When Mr.... (full context)
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Miss Honey says that, regardless, Matilda is brilliant, and her parents should know this. Mrs. Wormwood gripes... (full context)
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Trying to hold her temper, Miss Honey says that Matilda also seems to be a math genius. Mr. Wormwood doesn’t see the... (full context)
Chapter 12. Lavender
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At one point during the first week of class, Miss Honey asks Matilda to pay attention with everyone else: Miss Trunchbull will take over the class... (full context)
Chapter 13. The Weekly Test
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Matilda’s class sits still and straight in preparation for Miss Trunchbull’s arrival. Miss Honey stands in the back. Presently, Miss Trunchbull marches in, tells the children they’re “nauseating little... (full context)
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...annoys Miss Trunchbull, who thought “write” was a difficult word. Nigel then says that yesterday, Miss Honey taught the class to spell “difficulty.” Miss Trunchbull asks a “daft” girl, Prudence, to spell... (full context)
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Miss Trunchbull snorts that Miss Honey wasted a whole class teaching the class to spell one word, but Nigel says the... (full context)
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...it “whott.” At this, the Trunchbull picks Eric up by his ears. Eric squeals and Miss Honey protests, but the Trunchbull says that boys’ ears are resilient and stretchy. Matilda is shocked... (full context)
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When Miss Honey protests again, the Trunchbull tells her to go get another job or just read Nicholas... (full context)
Chapter 14. The First Miracle
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...should be exterminated like flies. She’d love to get them all stuck to sticky paper. Miss Honey says this joke isn’t funny, but the Trunchbull says it isn’t a joke. Ideally, schools... (full context)
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...The other students agree with Matilda and suggest that the Trunchbull knocked it over herself. Miss Honey notes that none of the children have moved. The adults stare at each other until... (full context)
Chapter 15. The Second Miracle
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Matilda doesn’t follow her classmates. She has to tell someone about what happened—and Miss Honey happens to be a “wise and sympathetic grown-up.” As soon as Matilda asks to speak... (full context)
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Miss Honey puts the empty water glass upright and Matilda says she’ll try to do it again;... (full context)
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...face is white, trembling, and her eyes are unseeing—and then Matilda seems to come to. Miss Honey murmurs that Matilda seemed far away, and Matilda says she was. She was “flying past... (full context)
Chapter 16. Miss Honey’s Cottage
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Miss Honey leads Matilda down the village’s High Street and onto a country road. Once they’re past... (full context)
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Then, Matilda asks if Miss Honey is afraid she’s going to hurt herself, and she insists that using her power feels... (full context)
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Matilda realizes she’s never thought of Miss Honey as a real person who doesn’t just live at school. Does she have a sibling,... (full context)
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...she’s frightened now. This cottage seems like something out of a fairy tale. But when Miss Honey calls for her, Matilda follows her teacher into the house. Miss Honey isn’t tall, but... (full context)
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Matilda thoroughly enjoys the task. When she returns with the water, though, she asks how Miss Honey ever gets enough water for a bath. Miss Honey explains that she heats a bucket... (full context)
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Miss Honey takes the tray and leads Matilda to the sitting room. Matilda is stunned: the room... (full context)
Chapter 17. Miss Honey’s Story
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Miss Honey invites Matilda to eat the second slice of bread. As Matilda nibbles, she asks if... (full context)
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Miss Honey says she hasn’t been able to speak to anyone about her problems, but Matilda seems... (full context)
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Matilda asks how Miss Honey ’s father died. Miss Honey says it’s all very mysterious; her father didn’t seem like... (full context)
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Miss Honey says that, though she was bright, she couldn’t go to university because her aunt needed... (full context)
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Miss Honey insists the story is over, but Matilda asks how she managed to escape. Miss Honey... (full context)
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Two years ago, Miss Honey came across this tiny cottage while on a walk. She asked the farmer if she... (full context)
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Matilda suggests that Miss Honey quit teaching and collect unemployment, but Miss Honey says she loves teaching too much. Then,... (full context)
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Matilda asks if Miss Honey ’s father really intended for the aunt to own the house. Miss Honey says he... (full context)
Chapter 18. The Names
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Matilda shouts; no wonder Miss Honey was so terrified. When Matilda tells Miss Honey about the pigtail incident on the playground... (full context)
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Matilda and Miss Honey walk in silence. Matilda is so lost in thought that she barely seems to notice... (full context)
Chapter 20. The Third Miracle
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It’s Thursday, the day when Miss Trunchbull takes over Miss Honey ’s class. In the morning, Miss Honey checks in with the students who were physically... (full context)
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...him to recite the three-times table backwards. He insists he hasn’t learned it backwards and Miss Honey murmurs that she doesn’t teach things backwards, since life moves forward—and anyway, could Miss Trunchbull... (full context)
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...a shout. But the chalk keeps writing. It writes that this is Magnus—and at this, Miss Honey glances at Matilda. Matilda’s eyes look like glittering stars. Then, “Magnus” tells the Trunchbull to... (full context)
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Wilfred screams that the Trunchbull is on the floor—and sure enough, she fainted. Miss Honey sends someone to fetch the matron, while Nigel notes that his father insists it’s best... (full context)
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...been so easy. The matron and five teachers rush in. One of the teachers congratulates Miss Honey and another suggests they throw more water on the Trunchbull, but the Matron scolds her... (full context)
Chapter 21. A New Home
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The following morning, Miss Honey receives a letter from local lawyers saying that they’ve found her father’s will. The house... (full context)
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A few weeks later, when Matilda is having tea with Miss Honey , she reveals that her power seems to be gone. Miss Honey says she’s not... (full context)
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Matilda adores these evenings with Miss Honey . They speak like equals, and she feels safe and loved. Matilda shares with Miss... (full context)
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Rather than pack, Matilda runs all the way to Miss Honey ’s house. Miss Honey is pruning her roses and comes out to meet Matilda. Matilda... (full context)
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...that she doesn’t want to go with her parents. She wants to live here, with Miss Honey . Miss Honey says that Matilda has to go with her parents—though she acknowledges that... (full context)
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...Mercedes with their suitcases. Matilda stops and asks her parents if she can stay with Miss Honey . Mr. Wormwood barely acknowledges this, and Miss Honey promises to care for Matilda—but only... (full context)