Literature: The Twits

What I am trying to tell you is that Mr. Twit was a foul and smelly old man.
Mrs. Twit was no better.
The narrator

One of Roald Dahl's many morbid children's books, The Twits describes Mr. and Mrs. Twit, an inexplicably married couple who despise one another, smell and are generally horrible people who are cruel to animals.

The first couple of chapters describe the couple and their lack of hygiene with a delighted glee; then there are several chapters of them playing increasingly mean tricks on one another, including Mr. Twit convincing his wife that she has a disease called "the Shrinks". Finally, the focus shifts to some of the animals they have been tormenting and how they get their revenge on the horrible couple once and for all.

This book contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: In two separate scenes, Mr. Twit drinks mugs of beer.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: At the end, when the Twits disappear.
  • Badass Beard: Averted by Mr. Twit. He only thinks it makes him look wise and manly, especially since it's prone to keeping bits of food in it to be eaten later.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Inverted. Goodness equals beauty. The narration states that people who are ugly can still have beauty shine through if they have pleasant thoughts and demeanor, accompanied by a drawing of such a person.
    "You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."
  • Brick Joke: See Chekhov's Gag below.
  • Captain Obvious: "To one side there is The Big Dead Tree. It never has any leaves on it because it's dead."
  • Chekhov's Gag: Turns out the Shrinks is a real disease you can get from being upside-down for too long.
  • Child Hater: As if Mrs. Twit wasn't repulsive enough already, she hits small children with her walking stick and plants thistles and nettles in her garden to keep them out.
  • Comically Missing the Point: The Twits' house has no windows. Mr. Twit didn't see the point of letting every Tom, Dick, and Harry peer in at them. This trope is promptly lampshaded by the narration.
  • Death by Irony: The couple are offed by gluing them upside-down to the floor after they have tortured Muggle-Wump and his family by making them stand upside-down on top of one another.
  • Escalating War: The first several chapter focus entirely on the Twits pulling cruel pranks on each other. Finally the narrator says this has gone on long enough and he wants to move on to a lighter topic.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Muggle-Wump and family are undoubtedly the heroes of this tale.
  • Evil Cripple: Mrs. Twit has a glass eye, which she uses to play pranks on her husband, and uses a walking stick (though that last part probably doesn't count because she really carries it so she can hit dogs and cats and small children).
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: Mrs. Twit was once a beautiful woman, until she started thinking ugly thoughts which led to the transformation into her hideous appearance.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Big Dead Tree.
  • Feathered Fiend: Inverted. Roly-Poly Bird and the other birds are instrumental to the escape of the monkey family and the turning of the Twits upside down.
  • Gaslighting: The titular dysfunctional couple do it to each other to begin with (for example, adding a small segment to the bottom of a walking stick every day to make the wife think she's shrinking), and have it spectacularly turned on them at the end (they're tricked into gluing themselves to the floor, and end up shrinking down into nothing in their efforts to get themselves unstuck).
  • Giving Them the Strip: Early in the book, a group of boys get stuck in a tree because Mr. Twit has coated the tree limbs with glue to catch birds for dinner. When he threatens to eat the boys instead, the only thing they can do to escape is slip out of their pants.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The first chunk of the book is vignettes about how horrible the twits are. The second chunk is about the family of monkeys trying to escape.
  • The Hero: Muggle-Wump.
  • I Am A Humanitarian: Mr. Twit has no qualms with the idea of making several boys into a pie.
  • Karmic Death: Both the Twits. See Death by Irony.
  • Kick the Dog: At least half of the book consists of this trope.
  • More Dakka: After the monkeys and birds manage to outwit the Twits several times, Mr. and Mrs. Twit decide to go purchase guns and shoot them all, especially "the kind that spray out fifty bullets or more with each bang!"
  • Only Sane Man: Played for Laughs in the chapter "Four Sticky Little Boys." When said little boys are are superglued to the Twits' tree by the seats of their pants and Mr. Twit decides to bake them in a pie in place of the birds they scared off, the fourth of them is the only one smart enough to think, "Wait, if we're only stuck by the seats of our pants, why don't we just slip out of them and get the heck out of here?".
  • Sleeping Single: The Twits, and it isn't hard to see why.
  • Villain Protagonist: The Twits are a variation, as they are introduced before Muggle-Wump and get a lot more of the focus in the first half of the book. The position of protagonist is later given to Muggle-Wump.