What is Mr. Wormwood's personality in Matilda?

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In Roald Dahl's Matilda, Mr. Wormwood, the title character's father, is a terrible person and an even worse parent. He is dishonest, sneaky, arrogant, obnoxious, and an abusive father. He is a used car salesman who makes his living by cheating his customers. He is cruel to his daughter, calls her names, and is unsupportive of her. He is completely disinterested in Matilda and ultimately abandons her, leaving her in her teacher's care.

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In Roald Dahl's Matilda, Mr. Wormwood is the father of Matilda and her brother, Michael. He is dishonest, arrogant, obnoxious, and a terrible parent.

He is a used car salesman who makes a living by cheating his customers. He uses sawdust to grease the motors of the cars he sells, so they will appear to run well for a short while. He shamelessly boasts,

Sawdust is one of the great secrets of my success.

He adjusts the odometers of the cars to make it seem like they have less mileage on them than they actually do. He sells stolen car parts and stolen vehicles.

He is also abusive and cruel to his daughter. Instead of being proud of Matilda's impressive abilities and love of reading, Mr. Wormwood is unsupportive and mean. He calls his daughter names regularly and is completely disinterested in her. At the end of the book, he does not hesitate to leave Matilda in the care of her teacher, Miss Honey.

Mr. Wormwood's physical appearance is an outward reflection of the terrible person he is. Dahl likens Mr. Wormwood's appearance to that of a rat. He is described as a

small ratty-looking man whose front teeth stuck out underneath a thin ratty moustache.

Rats are known for being sneaky and evoking feelings of disgust and revulsion. By comparing Mr. Wormwood to a rat, Dahl is further illustrating what an awful person Mr. Wormwood is.

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What is Mr. Wormwood's personality in Matilda?

Mr. Wormwood is just one of many adult authority figures in the works of Roald Dahl presented in a less than flattering light. Personality-wise, he’s a real piece of work: loud, greedy, vulgar, crooked, and cruel—and those are just his good points—he’s doesn’t exactly go out of his way to invite sympathy.

He also won’t be winning any Parent of the Year awards anytime soon. He sets his children a truly appalling example by engaging in crooked business practices. A slimy used car salesman, he knowingly sells clapped-out old bangers to his naive customers, whom he regards with contempt as suckers. He’s also involved in the trade of stolen car parts, which makes him an out-and-out criminal. Parents are supposed to lead by example, but not Mr. Wormwood.

But what really makes Wormwood's personality so unutterably vile is his treatment of his daughter Matilda. Wormwood has no time for Matilda, regarding her as a “mistake.” He resents the fact that she’s so smart, able to calculate the profits from the cars that he’s sold without even looking at the figures. As far as Wormwood’s concerned, he’s always the smartest guy in the room, and he doesn’t take kindly to his daughter making him look stupid.

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