Matilda’s miraculous power is, essentially, a manifestation of her firm sense of morality. With her power, Matilda can channel her anger at the injustices she sees in the world and with it, cause objects to move. At first, Matilda uses her power—accidentally—to tip a glass of water containing a newt onto Miss Trunchbull’s chest. Miss Trunchbull is unfairly tormenting the students prior to this incident, and this enrages the justice-loving Matilda. So Miss Trunchbull’s unfairness provides Matilda with the emotional ammunition she needs to tip over the glass, thereby embarrassing Miss Trunchbull—and getting back at the tyrannical headmistress for abusing students.
Later, when Matilda hears about how Miss Trunchbull has abused Miss Honey for years and is even now stealing Miss Honey’s paycheck and living in the house that rightfully belongs to Miss Honey, Matilda can’t let this injustice go. Instead, she channels her anger and her desire for justice until she’s able to control her power enough to write with chalk on the blackboard. Matilda makes it seem like the ghost of Miss Honey’s father—whom Miss Trunchbull may have murdered—is the person writing, telling Miss Trunchbull to leave Miss Honey alone and give the young woman back her house. When Matilda frightens Miss Trunchbull so badly that Miss Trunchbull leaves the school and the house, never to be seen again, it gets Miss Honey the justice she deserves.
Having saved Miss Honey from financial ruin and students and parents from Miss Trunchbull’s tyranny, Matilda soon discovers that her power disappears. At this point, Miss Honey suggests that Matilda no longer has anything to fight against. She’s in a class that challenges her, and she was able to get rid of Miss Trunchbull. Put simply, after having righted the wrongs in her world, Matilda no longer needs her power to fight back, as there’s no longer anything to fight back against.
Matilda’s Power Quotes in Matilda
Matilda, in the second row, sat very still and said nothing. A strange feeling of serenity and confidence was sweeping over her and all of a sudden she found that she was frightened by nobody in the world. With the power of her eyes alone she had compelled a glass of water to tip and spill its contents over the horrible Headmistress, and anybody who could do that could do anything.
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.
“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.”
“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.”