Parental Neglect By Roald Dahl 's Matilda And Neil Gaiman 's Coraline
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Child abuse, in any form, is cause for outrage. This makes the question of whether neglect, benign or otherwise, is better than violence hard to consider. According to Canada’s Public Health Agency, parental neglect, at 34% of cases, is the most commonly reported form of child maltreatment (31). In Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, parental neglect is contrasted against violence as both are shown to be psychologically detrimental to a child, while the impact of these imperfect parents is able to help a child redefine their sense of self.
The overt neglect of her prodigal intellect experienced by Matilda leaves her feeling misunderstood and an outsider in her family which differs from the perceived neglect which leaves Coraline struggling with her sense of self. Born to parents described as “gormless” (Dahl 4), Matilda is both blessed and cursed with a prodigal intellect. Causing Matilda to crave knowledge, it is her intellect that leads her at the age of “four years and three months” (9), to defy her parents and everyday walk to the library. Matilda admits to this neglect to Mrs. Phelps, the librarian, when she tells her of her mother, “She doesn’t encourage reading books. Nor does my father” (10). With this statement Matilda shows how her parents have neglected to foster her intellect. Matilda’s eagerness to digest information, and the fact that the only book in the Wormwood home is her mother’s cookbook, elaborates how she differs from her parents.