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Review of Roald Dahl's The BFG


“’Yesterday,’ he said, ‘we was not believing in giants, was we? Today we is not believing in snozzcumbers. Just because we happen not to have actually seen something with our own two little winkles, we think it is not existing.”

Roald Dahl’s BFG like so many of his other novels challenges and removes the mundanity and ordinariness of everyday life, encouraging the reader to believe in the magical and the impossible. In the lead up to Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation released later this month, this review will shine a light on the classic story of the BFG.

Released in 1982, the enchanting story of the BFG, illustrated beautifully and made alive by Quentin Blake, was dedicated to Dahl’s late daughter Olivia who died at just 7 years old from measles encephalitis. The book tells the story of the unlikely friendship struck up between an 8-year-old orphan named Sophie and a giant - the BFG. Once taken to Giant Land to the BFG’s cave, Sophie is terrified that the giant has plans to devour her for dinner, but she soon discovers that this giant is different: a vegetarian living off snozzcumbers who stalks the streets at night to blow good dreams into children’s rooms. The plot follows their adventures: the dangers of the Bloodbottler Giant; the trip to the Dream Country; their encounter with the Queen of England and the entrapment of the evil giants, amongst a few.

What permeates throughout the story is Dahl’s humour, such as the bizarre endearing nonsensical language of the BFG and the satirical puns weaved through. Dahl does not shy away from approaching uncomfortable subjects either, such as feelings of isolation and loneliness experienced by both Sophie and the BFG, and it is these commonalities which draws them closer together. But what particularly shines through is the underlying message of the story; not judging others by appearances or preconceptions.

Being snatched by the BFG opens up new possibilities for Sophie who fails to see much of a future for herself; as her childhood wastes away in an orphanage. She realises that there's more to the world than she or most humans can comprehend and that the BFG is her gateway to it. "Dreams is full of mystery and magic...Do not try to understand them”.

Though the BFG is uneducated and expresses himself in peculiar ways, his worldview makes more sense than that of the other characters and Sophie finds her preconceptions often challenged by his observations about humans and the double standards they set. "This extraordinary giant was disturbing her ideas. He seemed to be leading her toward mysteries that were beyond her understanding."

Brimming with the silliness and wonder one expects from a Roald Dahl novel, The BFG proves friendship can flourish between creatures of any size, age, or background and we may only discover our full potential after encountering such friendships. The unlikely way Sophie and the BFG rally to rid the earth of violent giants demonstrate what can happen when we are determined to not allow differences to divide us.

This is a beautiful classic tale, with unique characters that will live long in your memory; tender relationships that tug at your heartstrings and humorous word play that keep you grinning throughout -  Spielberg’s movie has a lot to live up to.

Written by Esther Dark

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