What happens to Roald Dahl’s villains?

Warning – this blog will pretty much spoil every Roald Dahl book ever written but I do try to make an interesting point.

Like so many other children I was brought up on fairy tales.  In the classic versions the heroes come out on top whilst the villain or antihero gets their just desserts (even the Gingerbread Man gets eaten!).  There is something reassuring about knowing that the Wicked Queen in Snow White, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel and the Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk are not only out smarted but that they also met fairly gruesome endings.

I have been telling Roald Dahl’s “The Twits” since 2016 and have had plenty of time to think about bigger questions linked to the story; Do Mr and Mrs Twit love each other? What happens to The Twits at the end of the story? The second of these questions I find quite fascinating and to attempt to answer it I now need to spoil a whole load of other stories.

Roald Dahl isn’t just a good writer he is a brilliant writer and has undoubtedly influenced the children’s authors who came after him.  In my opinion The Twits is a masterpiece of children’s writing, packed with disgusting humour.  In fact whilst many of Roald Dahl’s stories could be described as magical just as many are quite dark.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is perhaps one of the most famous stories ever written but in it four spoiled children narrowly escape quite horrific deaths.  The point is that Dahl chooses not to kill off these rotters.  In fact rather than following the formula of the classic fairy tale, Roald Dahl invariably keeps his villains and antiheroes alive.  In the BFG the Giants end up trapped in a pit.  In Matilda Miss Trunchbull runs away in the night and in Fantastic Mr Fox Dahl leaves the three terrible farmers waiting by the hole.  Waiting perhaps to do it all again.

By being ambiguous about the fate of his characters Roald Dahl denies his audience the certainty of the fairy tale ending preferring leave the door open (just slightly).  In James and the Giant Peach Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker are squashed by the peach but does squashed mean killed?  Miss Trunchbull may no longer be a part of Matilda’s life but isn’t it a horrid idea to think that she might be out there somewhere tormenting other children? What’s worse the fact something happened or the possibility of it happening again? It’s very clever and not so unsurprising from someone who was also known for short stories for adults including his Tales of the Unexpected. As far as I can work out the only exceptions to my theory that Roald Dahl preserves all of his villains are The Enormous Crocodile who crashes head first into the sun (which we must assume fatal) and The Grand High Witch who meets a sticky ending.  Perhaps even Dahl felt that these two were the stuff of nightmares.

But what about Mr and Mrs Twit?  What happens to them?  Well if you want to find out what happened when the Roly Poly Bird met the Twits or when Billy met the Minpins then you’ll have to buy a ticket to our Crowdcast event happening on Wednesday 15th July 2020.

Tickets are available here and priced at £3 to £6.

Andy Copps tells “Billy and the Minpins”

John Kirk tells “The Twits”

I promise, no spoilers here.

John Kirk is a professional storyteller telling stories in libraries and at events and festivals.  For more information or to make an enquiry, complete a contact form.