Everyone loves Roald Dahl. His affinity with words and rhyme, and his endless imagination continue to fill generations of childhoods with a rich array of classic tales, full of colourful characters and plucky protagonists. In celebration of his 100th birthday, online investment service, Wealthify took a look at some of his most fantastical creations and consider how the stories can help us manage our money.
Dahl's gruesome twosome are retired circus trainers trying to make their fortune by creating the world’s first upside-down monkey circus. Unfortunately for them, the monkeys turn on their masters, convincing the Twits that they’re upside down by gluing their furniture to the ceiling and their heads to the floor – causing them to shrink away to nothing.
What we can learn: Respect is a two-way street. Treat your investments with respect and they’ll pay you back many times over. Don’t, and they could shrink away too!
One of Dahl’s more romantic stories, this tale tells of Mr. Hoppy’s attempts to win Mrs. Silver’s affections by helping her beloved tortoise Alfie achieve more dignified proportions. A few magic words, and some extensive scouring of the city’s pet shops to purchase a creep of incrementally larger tortoises ensures Mrs. Silver’s wish comes true, and in turn, Mr Hoppy gets his girl.
What we can learn: It takes more than a few magic words to grow your money, but with a good plan in place, you can achieve your goals.
Born to mean, ignorant parents who don’t seem to like or understand her at all, Matilda finds solace in books, feeding her astonishing intellect by reading her way through an entire library. Discovering that her marvellous mind boasts telekinetic powers, she turns hers and her friend, Miss Honey’s lives around, using her special gift and a sprinkle of wit to scare tyrannical Mrs Trunchball away for good. Then, when her hapless parents ‘disappear’, she gets her happy ending.
What we can learn: Knowledge is power – be diligent, do your homework and you’ll always have the upper hand, especially when it comes to your finances.
Danny, the Champion of the World
Poor Danny and his car mechanic Dad, William, live in a gypsy caravan, making ends meet by poaching pheasants from the local estate, owned by the obnoxious Mr Hazell. After rescuing his dad from a trap laid by Mr Hazell, Danny plots his payback by drugging the pheasants with sleeping pills, thus ruining Hazell’s posh shooting party. Their cunning plan almost backfires when the plucky pheasants come around from their snooze and fly off, but the party gets ruined anyway and Danny and his Dad share the spoils of their silly scheme with their friends.
What we can learn: Your plans may change, but whatever life throws at you, keep your eyes on the prize and things will usually work out in the end.
Investing is for everyone.
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George’s Marvellous medicine
The diminutive George is left looking after his gruesome granny when mum pops out on Saturday, leaving the horrible hag to mistreat her grandson with glee. Fed up, George plots revenge – he will replace her usual medicine with a potion of his own creation, a brew of unprecedented parts that proves quite a tonic for the gruesome old goat.
What we can learn: Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Look at alternative ways to grow your money – you never know, amazing things might even happen!
Little Sophie is snatched from her orphanage window late one night by the Big Friendly Giant and whisked away to Giant Country. When Sophie realizes that the BFG’s job is to deliver pleasant dreams to snoozing sprogs, she joins the giant on his jolly jaunt back to London the next night, only to be followed by a mob of nasty giants determined to gobble up the city’s unsuspecting children. Enlisting the help of the Queen of England and her army, switched-on Sophie designs a dream to defeat the greedy giants for good.
What we can learn: Don’t be afraid to dream big – or to turn your dreams into reality!
Fantastic Mr Fox
Mr Fox takes on a trio of evil farmers - Boggis, Bunce and Bean - in a bid to feed his famished family and the rest of his underground circle of furry friends. There’s a loose grip on morality in Roald Dahl’s farmyard classic, if you consider all the chickens, ducks, geese and cider rustling going on, but strip away the layers of loveable characters and you’ll find a timeless allegory combining Robin Hood’s “take from the rich, give to the poor” philosophy with Animal Farm’s view on elitist wealth and power.
What we can learn: whether you’re a fox, or the Wolf of Wall Street, it’s good to have a strong circle of friends when the going gets tough.
Happy 100th Mr Dahl!
The comments and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and should not be taken as financial advice from Wealthify.