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Question of Today-Episode #1

By, Wendiann Alfieri

Question Of The Day #1: What is something a Villain in a book and/or movie Has done that you can understand?

My Answer:

When I was a kid, I discovered an author, called Roald Dahl. I don’t remember which of his children's books I read first in order of when I read them, but I remember “Matilda” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” as being the first two. I read the books before seeing the movies, in fact, the movies were both out way before I was born, I just happened to read the books before I saw the movies. I loved reading more than anything. When I read Matilda, it struck a cord. I loved that book, and when I watched the movie, I loved it too. I started reading all I could of Roal Dahl’s children's books and had my mom buy me my own copies. I would just sit that summer, reading Matilda over and over, watching the movie with my siblings as well. While I was the Reader of the family, my other siblings loved Matilda, so we would watch that as one of our favorites, along with educational tv shows. As children, we all loved learning. At that time, what I wanted to learn, was how to harness the powers of Matilda that my 9-year-old brain was not entirely convinced WASN’T real. I would always call myself silly for thinking that, I was in fourth GRADE, I should know they weren’t real…but it wouldn’t hurt to try. So, One day, when my siblings were outside playing, and my parents were bbq-ing, I decided to test it. I opened my bedroom door, sat on the edge of my mattress, stared at the halfway open door, and thought Move. Well, to my great fright, the door creaked. Actually, it could’ve been anything that creaked. It could’ve been the wind from all the many opened windows surrounding me in the summer heat. It could’ve just been my shoes on the floor. Basically, it obviously wasn’t superpowers. But lil 9-year-old Me thought it was, and I jumped up in fear and bolted outside to join my family, and never thought about it again. A child's imagination stretches everything, and though logic subsequently crept in, at that time I was still terrified to even try it again.

I look back at the Matilda days when I was convinced I could wield unworldly powers, and I laugh.

Today, I find relation to that book and movie, in a much more petty way that only an adult soured by time can be.

That relation is in regard to one scene involving the Villain of both the book and movie:

The Trunchbull.

As a kid, she scared me.

I always clenched my teeth and hands at the scene in the movie where little Matilda gets stuck in the Trunchbull's house and has to sneak out without being caught. It's a scene that wasn’t in the book but was still extremely effective.

The Trunchbull’s whole character is based around her despising children despite being an elementary school principal.

She’s one of those villains you just Love to Hate, and when her comeuppance arrives, it's satisfying to watch and/or read.

And I always put her in the category of unrelatable, and still do, like Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, a beast destroyed by their own false logic.

Today I was thinking about if I could ever understand the rage and sense of injustice that the Trunchbull felt, regarding anyone and everyone.

While she's intense, she's not Maleficent. She doesn't turn into a dragon or have powers like Matilda. She's a human. A strong human, but still human.

While the performance and/or writing portrayed her in a way that was intense as it was comical, Her unmatched fury still has no limits and bounds.

Even against the powers of Matilda, she grasps for control.

Is there anything that happens in the movie that would make motivate me to feel even a sliver of the same anger and volition? Anything that would provoke even the most basic of semi-logical frustration?

And boom, I thought of it.

The chocolate cake.

For clarity, I'll use the way the movie shows this scene to provide context:

The Trunchbull had a gourmet cake made for her that a child in the school she oversaw stole and ate.

As punishment, She puts him on a stage and outs him for it, in front of the whole school, making him eat another whole cake, and then another, till he’s almost sick, to prove a point.

All the kids are made to stay late to watch.

He finishes the cake like a warrior, and everyone cheers that he has passed the Trunchbulls challenge, a victory for the kids even though they were made to stay late.

While I think this method of punishing in real life is more like just torture and not something I would wish on anyone, I think of the scenario that caused this scene in concept, and I think if in real life, I had a gourmet chocolate cake promised to me, and then it was eaten by someone else, even a kid, I would be pissed, too.

If I was an Elementary School Principal like the Trunchbull was, I probably would make the kid pay for a new cake, write a note home, and give a warning and detention. As a principal, I'd think I would care about the way I influenced people.

If it was an Adult, The next time they'd look for a chocolate cake in the fridge it'll look like a normal chocolate cake with frosting...but it would be made entirely of butter, and a note that would say "bon appetit"

thank you


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