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|“||In this classroom, in this school, I AM GOD!||„|
|~ Agatha Trunchbull's most famous quote.|
Agatha Trunchbull, more commonly known as Ms. Trunchbull or simply the Trunchbull due to her nasty disposition, is the main antagonist of the 1988 Roald Dahl novel Matilda, as well as its 1996 film adaptation and 2010 musical adaptation. She is the former headmistress of Crunchem Hall Elementary School, Miss Jennifer Honey's aunt, and Matilda Wormwood's arch-nemesis. She is also the stepsister of Miss Honey's deceased mother, Mrs. Honey, and is the stepsister-in-law (and murderer) of Miss Honey's deceased father, Dr. Magnus Honey, Mrs. Honey's husband.
- In the 1996 film adaptation, she was portrayed by Pam Ferris, who also played Marge Dursley in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
- In the musical adaptation, she is portrayed by Bertie Carvel.
- In the upcoming film adaptation of the musical, she will be portrayed by Dame Emma Thompson, who also played Lesa in Hoodwinked!, Karen Eiffel in Stranger Than Fiction, The Woman in Lutins, Sarafine Duchannes in The Caster Chronicles, The Yeti Elder in Missing Link and Baroness von Hellman in Cruella.
Agatha Trunchbull's early life is unknown. However, by the start of the story, she is 48 years old and 5'7' (148 cm) in height. She harbors an intense hatred of all children for unknown reasons, and has no qualms about committing the most atrocious acts of abuse, including hurling them for long distances or jailing them into a medieval torture-device that resembles an iron maiden called The Chokey.
The Trunchbull has a muscular build to back up her overbearing and controlling personality. In her youth, she was incredibly muscular and was an Olympic athlete. Even in middle age, still retains the horsepower, agility, and quick reflexes from her time spent as an Olympic athlete and would exercise in her spare time.
Her punishments were excessive to the point where they could have been fatal, although her only known murder victim is Magnus Honey, her brother-in-law. Every child in the novel and the film that she punished ended up surviving intact. It is believed that she uses such extreme methods in order to cover herself up; most reasonable people would simply dismiss such stories as children's imagination.
The Trunchbull is the maternal aunt of Jennifer Honey, who herself is the polar opposite of her aunt. Having lost both parents at an early age, Jennifer Honey was raised by the Trunchbull, and suffered the brunt of her abuse and manipulation. When Jennifer became of age, the Trunchbull demanded that she surrender the family estate to her, giving the Trunchbull effective dominion over her niece.
In the book, the Trunchbull is mentioned in passing by Dahl as the evil headmistress of Crunchem Hall. She is then glossed over by Miss Honey. However, she is first given a detailed description by a girl named Hortensia, who has been an adversary of the Trunchbull throughout her time at school. Hortensia tells Matilda and her friend about the Trunchbull's cruelty, including her extreme punishments and torture. Hortensia even goes as far as to say many children get "carried out on stretchers screaming, I've seen it often."
Matilda then sees the children in the yard fall silent as the Trunchbull approaches a girl named Amanda Thripp and scolds her about her pigtails. When Amanda feebly protests saying her mother loves them, the Trunchbull proceeds to insult her mother, and picks up the terrified girl before whirling her round and round. She flings Amanda over the fence into a vegetable garden. Fortunately, Amanda is physically unhurt, though undoubtedly scarred for life.
During a school assembly meeting, she forces a boy named Bruce Bogtrotter to consume an enormous chocolate cake in front of the whole school. Bruce ends up succeeding, to the delight of the students. The Trunchbull forces all students to stay for five hours after school and copy from the dictionary.
The Trunchbull ends up being defeated by her superstitious fear of ghosts. In the book, just as she is about to punish a young boy, Matilda uses her mental power to pick up the chalk and write her a message on the chalkboard, posing as Magnus Honey. The Trunchbull proceeds to have a panic attack and passes out. While she later regains consciousness, she left the school, never to be seen or heard from again.
It is unknown what happened to Trunchbull afterwards, but she most likely ended up in prison or committing suicide.
In the film, the Trunchbull is first seen at Harry Wormwood's car shop, requesting an inexpensive, reliable car. He arranges for Matilda to attend her school the following day.
On Matilda's first day at school, the Trunchbull sees her for the first time in the yard, and calls her "fresh meat", before throwing Amanda Thripp into a flower field by her pigtails.
She is next seen when Miss Honey attempts to convince her to allow Matilda to skip grades. However, the Trunchbull categorically refuses such a request. The Trunchbull attempted to the Olympics, but unfortunately, the faulty car that she bought from Wormwood stopped functioning, and angrily calls him, threatening violence against him. Miss Honey and Matilda narrowly manage to avoid getting spotted by her when they invade her house.
The night before her defeat, Matilda visits the Trunchbull's house and uses her mental powers to convince the Trunchbull that her house is haunted. Just as the Trunchbull is about to leave, however, she found Matilda's red hair ribbon and is convinced that someone had tried to enter her home. The next day, she shows up in Jennifer Honey's class to teach a children a lesson about intruding on her property. She strongly suspects Matilda as being guilty, before Miss Honey steps forwards and saves Matilda, claiming to be the one who was at her house. The Trunchbull proceeds to threaten to break her niece's arm, before Jennifer finally stands up to her aunt, surprising the children.
As the Trunchbull is about to punish Matilda, the young girl uses her mental powers to write a message on the chalkboard in the name of Magnus Honey. Following this, Matilda uses two chalk board erasers to attack her, before the Trunchbull passes out. However, unlike the book, the Trunchbull regains consciousness a few minutes later, and proceeds to attack two other students, but is thwarted by Matilda. She attempted to throw a boy out the window, but Matilda's mental powers sent him flying back at her, causing the Trunchbull to crash onto a globe.
At Miss Honey's silent suggestion, Matilda made the globe spin around and around, before the Trunchbull went flying off onto the floor. After regaining balance, she charges at Lavender, but Matilda saves her, and the Trunchbull crashes through the door into the hallway. The students of the entire school proceed to pelt the Trunchbull with their food, and the Trunchbull flees in her car. She most likely ends up committing suicide, moving to a new place, or imprisoned.
With the Trunchbull's defeat, Miss Honey then adopts Matilda and gets her true home back as well as being promoted into the new principal of the school.
In Dennis Kelly's musical adaptation of the book, Trunchbull sings two songs; "The Hammer" and "The Smell of Rebellion". Some of the themes are different in the musical from that of the film and the book, such as the theme of rebellion and conformity. Because of this, the Trunchbull is portrayed more as an delusional formalist than an adult bully.
In her first song, "The Hammer", she expressed her inner thoughts about how the world should be run, and likens it to hammer throwing. In this song, she explains how the only way to be successful in life is to obey the rules and the only way to inspire people to be better is to force them to follow the rules. Empathy and kindness are very poor tools for achieving this goal, according to her.
In "The Smell of Rebellion", she punishes the children through physical education and makes clear her distaste for rebellion, which leads to a decline in the morals of society. When the children arrive to the school, she used some teens students to scare and bully the students in "School Song" has them telling the children to wait for Phys. Ed. One of them explains that it is the "Trunchbull specialty", meaning that it is how she punished children or put them in the Chokey same if they seem to warn them to be careful, one students always asks why, more to their annoyance.
In the musical, she is more menacing, vituperative, obnoxious and cruel over the kids and her niece. At the school, when she said that she would make more Chokeys for locking up all of the children, Matilda uses her powers to write a message from Magnus's ghost on the chalkboard. Subsequently, Trunchbull is chased by a bunch of children who told her to run, and she fled away from the school. In the end, she is most likely that she left the town, because any person of the town heard something about her after this. In some stage adaptations, it is said she was arrested after, during a panic attack in which she let it slip that she had killed Magnus.
Powers and Abilities
Agatha Trunchbull is incredibly, almost inhumanly strong. She performs enormous feats of strength such as lifting up a boy named Julius Rottwinkle and throwing him out the window, hammer throwing Amanda Thripp and sending her on a trip spanning several yards, above several stories of Crunchem Hall, and can kick a cat high in the air and make it fly several yards.
She has been shown ripping a metal chain apart with her bare hands, and can even lift up a car to reposition it and push it along. By far one of Trunchbull's greatest physical feats is when she vaults over a railing, dropping almost twenty feet and landing unscathed, the impact of said landing triggering a small earthquake.
Trunchbull also has a sense of smell superior to regular humans and can identify faint odors and identify who they came off of. She is very skilled at Olympic games, such as the Hammer Throw, Shot Put, and Javelin. Being superstitious, her only fears are ghosts and black cats. Her intelligence is relatively high, but her arrogance is easily exploited.
- Murdered her brother-in-law Magnus to inherit his house (and not even take very good care of the house).
- Broken Miss Honey's arm at some point.
- Made Miss Honey poor by paying her cheaply and also stole all of her possessions and family fortune.
- Verbally abused students and even swore in front of them.
- Swung Amanda Thripp around by her hair and tried to impale her on a fence by throwing her towards it (Amanda narrowly missed the fence and landed in a flower bed),
- Locked countless kids in the Chokey.
- Held a boy named Rupert by the hair.
- Stretched Eric Ink's ears.
- Made a kid named Nigel Hicks stand on one leg and face the wall.
- Held a boy named Wilfred upside down.
- Threw Julius Rottwinkle out a window for eating in class.
- Forced Bruce Bogtrotter to eat a third of his own body weight in chocolate cake for stealing her snack. But when he succeeded, she smashed the plate that had the cake onto Bruce's head, and then knocked him out and cursed him.
- Killed her brother-in-law Magnus and let his house fall into disrepair.
- Squandered all of Jennifer Honey's possessions, including her family chocolates, Liccy doll, and the portrait of Magnus.
- Verbally and physically abused students and staff.
- Assaulted Amanda Thripp by throwing her into the flower garden.
- Threatened to murder Harry when she found out his criminal business.
- Made Bruce eat an entire chocolate cake many times his body weight.
- Held a boy upside down.
- Threw a boy out of a two story window.
- Attempted to attack Matilda and Jennifer Honey.
- Kicks a black cat because she saw it as bad luck despite the cat being friendly.
- Killed Magnus, who was her brother-in-law.
- She had some teen students to work for her to scare and bully the kids. (They realized she was just using them, by making the kids suffer like they did in their childhood.)
- Swung Amanda Thripp for wearing the pigtails and throw her into the air. (Only for her to fall on the ground or in the other students arms to be cheered)
- Forced Bruce to eat an entire cake, but when he did finished with the help of his friends, she then put him in the Chokey and made him wear a sign saying "I Got Put In The Chokey" to humiliate him even further.
Described as spending much of her time in a "steroidal rage" by Pam Ferris herself, Trunchbull is an explosive, neurotic, paranoid, wrathful, overbearing, ill-tempered, sociopathic, narcissistic, and highly erratic individual who takes absolute delight in the amount of fear and intimidation she instills in those around her. She possesses an absolute hatred for children and those she considers below herself (which includes most people). The Trunchbull is extremely attached to her success as an Olympic athlete for Great Britain and considers herself as an idol for others. She possesses a bitter disposition, exhibiting her dominance around the school.
It is heavily implied that Trunchbull murdered her own brother-in-law in order to steal his house and money. She spared her niece, but abused her both emotionally and physically for many years.
The Trunchbull proves to be a fearful individual, possessing an intense fear of ghosts, black cats, and the supernatural in general. Matilda capitalizes on this, leading to her downfall and defeat.
The Trunchbull has a dry-witted, sardonic and condescending sense of humor, often speaking to the children in a patronizing and demeaning manner, and making berating comments about them for her own amusement. She also considers suffering a great way to build character and believes the children will thank her someday for everything she does, although this is most likely an excuse to justify her actions.
- Miss Trunchbull's role as a cruel teacher is regarded as one of the most common themes in Roald Dahl's works, featuring abusive and unkind teachers or child haters who delight in the childrens' suffering, like Captain Lancaster in Danny, the Champion of the World or the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. That said, Agatha Trunchbull is best remembered as one of the most crueler examples of evil fictional teachers.
- Maggie Kirkpatrick was originally considered for the role of Miss Trunchbull, but she was unauthorized to work in the United States. In fact, Pam Ferris was cast as the role of Miss Trunchbull instead.
- The Trunchbull and The Grand High Witch are the most evil Roald Dahl villains.
- It is widely believed that Agatha Trunchbull was based off the headmistress of Liccy Dahl (who served as a producer) - who reportedly got very creative with her punishments. However, the Trunchbull was actually based on Roald Dahl's real life experiences during his childhood, where he had a teacher named Captain Hardcastle who was sadistic with him.
- While speaking to Harry Wormwood, she mentions that she was never a child. This implies a rough and/or abusive upbringing, though it could simply be out of spite.
- In the book, after her niece Ms. Honey says that she was once a little girl as well, she claims she was not a child for very long and that she became a woman very quickly which may or may not be true.
- Miss Trunchbull is arguably less evil in the film adaptation than in the book, even having some comedic moments like when she desperately dances to get rid of the salamander. This is because most of her scenes abusing Matilda's classmates weren't included. However, the implication that Agatha may have killed Magnus remains and a scene in which she expresses the idea of killing Mr. Wormwood for scamming her is shown.
- Her line, "In this Classroom, In this School, I am GOD!" is one of the most controversial aspects of the movie.
- Agatha's name came from an Ancient Greek word meaning "good". However, it's very ironic for this character; Agatha Trunchbull is just about anything but good.
- Despite being female, Miss Trunchbull has only been portrayed by a female actress in the 1996 film adaptation of the book. In the musical adaptation, she was portrayed by a male actor.
- Though unmentioned in other adaptations which simply state that Trunchbull was never seen again after her breakdown, some play versions mention that Trunchbull was eventually arrested sometime after fleeing the school due to accidentally admitting that Magnus's ghost wanted revenge on her for his murder in a panic attack.
- Agatha Trunchbull on the Pure Evil Wiki.