Articles for parents

The wonderful characters of Roald Dahl

Sep 2023
llustration: Quentin Blake, with permission from A P Watt at United Agents on behalf of Quentin Blake

Often referred to as one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century, Roald Dahl's extremely popular books are full of magic and adventure. Six of Dahl's best books, including his autobiography Boy, appear on the Kumon Recommended Reading List, showing just how much his books are enjoyed here at Kumon and across the world. 

His stories introduced us to many weird and wonderful characters so, in honour of his birthday, we have taken a look at some of the most memorable:

Willy Wonka
Willy Wonka is the eccentric owner of the chocolate factory in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He is a creative genius with the enthusiasm and energy of a child. Mischievous, quirky and wise, he is one of a kind.

The BFG, or 'Big Friendly Giant', can be found in Dahl's book of the same name. He is a 24-foot tall giant with the important job of collecting and distributing good dreams to children. Unlike the rest of his kin in Giant Country, the BFG is kind and tries to live peacefully alongside the humans. He befriends a little orphan girl named Sophie, and together the pair heroically save the human race.

James Henry Trotter
The young protagonist of James and the Giant Peach earns both our sympathies and our admiration. He is extremely resilient, having to endure mistreatment at the hands of his evil aunts and, later in his peach adventures, proves to be very resourceful. James comes up his intuitive plans that save the lives of his new animal friends on many occasions.

However, some of Roald Dahl's characters, while memorable, aren't likeable!

Mr and Mrs Twit
In the case of Mr and Mrs Twit, in The Twits, you really can judge a book by its cover. This married pair are vulgar, conniving and foolish. They are nasty to one another, cruel to their pet monkeys, and vile to everyone else. They constantly play tricks on one another but it doesn't end well for Mr and Mrs Twit once a trick is played on them.

The Grand High Witch
The leader of all the witches in the world, the Grand High Witch in The Witches is truly evil. She detests children and travels from country to country teaching the other witches how best to kill them. She is a tyrannical ruler, who punishes those who have not reached their deadly quota and fries any witch who questions her ideas. Very scary!

So which Roald Dahl character has stayed in your memory the most? If we missed your favourite here, maybe we covered them in Part 2!