I discovered this article about gender representation within some of Roald Dahl’s greatest books, written between April and June 2018. I thought this would be quite intriguing for my research as these books are extremely popular, very famous, although highly criticised.
Firstly, I was quite surprised after reading this article, as I was under the impression that many of Dahl’s protagonists were male. However, this was a pleasant reminder of the reality that Dahl is actually a supporter of female gender which is conveyed through his modern approach of female heroines.
‘Matilda’ one of Dahl’s greatest books, involves a bright, dynamic female character as the protagonist, along with a petrifying headteacher, Miss Trunchball - which already breaks stereotypes surrounding employment. Matilda acts in a way normally associated with boys in such literature. Matilda’s world is female dominated and we see Dahl’s attempt to break stereotypes through the character of Matilda’s father who states ‘girls should be seen not heard’, followed by several degrading statements. “The patterns of gender which can be associated with fairy tales are carried by the adult female characters in Matilda”.
This article also covers Dahl’s book The Witches, which is one of the most heavily criticised sexist books due to it’s “implied connection between malicious and gender”, however after analysation, we can forgive Dahl through his clear statements that witches are not human, and the lack of feminine features of the witches. He can be applauded however for the great representation of female characters, despite the adventurous child in the book being male - which also fits the stereotypical characteristics of a boy of that age.
The other book which is analysed is The BFG and the gender acknowledgements within. The girl here is not portrayed as weak nor passive towards the descriptively large male character, which breaks tradition which would normally convey fear. One criticism which is mentioned is the way there is a clear differentiation of boys and girls however which we see when dreams are referred to - the BFG refers to girls dreams as ‘whoppsy girls’ dream’ which boys would refer to as “rot bungling grinksludging old dream”. It is clear here that the genders are portrayed to have complete difference in interests, which in today’s society would be deemed non-representative and naive.
Overall I found the article quite eye opening, providing me with ideas and food for thought.