|“||In this classroom, in this school, I AM GOD!!!||„|
|~ Principal Trunchbull's most famous quote.|
Agatha Trunchbull, more commonly known as Ms. Trunchbull or simply the Trunchbull, is the main antagonist of the 1988 Roald Dahl novel, 1996 film, and musical versions of Matilda. She is the former headmistress of Crunchem Hall Elementary School, Miss Honey's aunt, and Matilda'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. Honey, Mrs. Honey's husband.
She was portrayed by Pam Ferris in the 1996 film adaptation.
Her full name is Agatha Trunchbull, and she is 48 years old, 5'7" (170 cm) in height, and about 195 lbs (88 kg) in weight, black hair and bluish-green eyes. She harbours an intense hatred of and total distrust of all children and thinks nothing of literally hurling them vast distances and confining those who dare to oppose her into a medieval torture-device that resembles an iron maiden called the Chokey.
Her tortures were so extreme that they could easily have been fatal (though the only person that she is confirmed to have killed is her brother-in-law, Magnus) and every child in the book and film she punished survived. In the novel, Matilda Wormwood believed that the reason why her tortures and punishments were so extreme was in order to make the stories about how she punished the children absolutely impossible to believe for a reasonable person; that way, nobody (except whoever saw the Trunchbull executing her punishments) would do anything to stop her, for the simple reason that they would think those stories were simply a product of the children's uncontrolled imagination.
She also berates, torments, and orders around a selfless, innocent teacher named Ms. Jennifer "Jenny" Honey, who is actually her niece. The Trunchbull raised Miss Honey, and broke her arm at some point. She was very abusive and manipulative towards Miss Honey, squandering her privileges throughout her education, and when the time came for Honey to go to college, the Trunchbull was so vile that she demanded Honey surrender her family estate to her, thus giving the Trunchbull effective dominion over the woman.
When Honey was frantically searching for another place to live in, she came across an old abandoned shack. The farmer who owned it said she was absolutely mad, but gave it to her for 10p. Then the Trunchbull was furious that Honey was leaving her and said she would amount to nothing.
In the book
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 yell at her about her pigtails. When Amanda feebly protests saying her mother loves them, the Trunchbull yells that her mother's a twit and literally picks up the terrified girl and whirls her round and round, yelling "I'll give you pigtails!" and throws Amanda over the fence into the vegetable garden. Fortunately, Amanda is physically unhurt, though undoubtedly scarred for life.
The Trunchbull then sent everyone to the assembly room, and called up a boy named Bruce Bogtrotter. She told him that he was a vicious sneak-thief by eating her favorite snack, chocolate cake. As punishment, she made Bruce consume an enormous chocolate cake in front of the whole school afterwards. After Bruce ate the entire cake, the Trunchbull was furious that he won and she punished all of the students by making them stay for five hours after school and copy from the dictionary afterwards.
In a scene from the book, she holds up a boy by his hair because it was too long, while in the film, she instead holds up a similar boy by his leg for not emptying his pockets fast enough.
In the book, she is defeated by her superstitious and ridiculous fear of ghosts. Matilda sees her about to torment a small boy, and Matilda, having enough, yanks up the chalk with her mental power and she uses it to write out a "message" from Magnus, the man whom the Trunchbull murdered. The message cleanly states "Yes it is Magnus and you had better believe it," and "Give my Jenny her wages, give my Jenny back her house, then get out of here, if you don't, I will come and get you, I will get you like you got me, I am watching you Agatha," and then Matilda breaks the chalk. Because the Trunchbull sees the chalk floating and writing on its own, she really does believe it to be Magnus's ghost and she has a panic attack and faints. The children and staff revive her but she storms out of the school the next day, scared out of her wits, and having had enough of the place.
In the film
In the film, she even put Matilda in the Chokey, thinking she was responsible for her father's lowlife business. Thankfully, Miss Honey saved Matilda from the horrid iron maiden.
Trunchbull attempted to drive to the Olympics, but the car ran out of gas, much to the villainous and argumentative principal's fury and anger. When she entered the house, she called Mr. Wormwood and threatened to sue him and kill him. She then went on a rampage, trying to find Matilda and Miss Honey after discovering someone has entered her house. Luckily, Matilda and Miss Honey got away from the evil woman's house, greatly infuriating her.
Thankfully, the Trunchbull was toppled by Matilda's quick thinking and magical powers, who tricked her into believing she was being haunted by the ghost of her brother-in-law (who, it is implied, may have been murdered by the Trunchbull in order to inherit his estate) - upon being convinced of this haunting, she fled in terror. However, she soon found Matilda's red hair ribbon and was now convinced somebody did enter her house.
She showed up at school to teach the children a lesson about who was responsible for intruding in her property. Matilda, now fed up with her torturing, abuse and cruelty, used her power to use a chalk, creating a message from her deceased brother-in-law, which frightened the Trunchbull. Matilda then sent two chalk erasers to assault her, knocking her to the floor. When she came to, she threw a boy out the window for no good reason, but Matilda's magic power sent him flying back at her, causing the Trunchbull to crash onto a globe.
Matilda, at Miss Honey's silent suggestion, then made the globe spin around and around, and the Trunchbull went flying off and landed on the floor unconscious. When she came to, she charged like a bull at Lavender, but she was saved by Matilda's power, and the Trunchbull crashed right through the door into the hallway. Matilda then opened the lunchboxes of all of her classmates and used her powers to pelt the Trunchbull with their lunches. Seeing this, the students in other classes suddenly lost all of their fear of her. Before she knew it, she was being pelted by lunch food by all of the children in her school, as they were all fed up with being tortured and abused. The Trunchbull fled in her sputtering car, and she was never seen or heard from again after this, but it's likely that she either moved to another place to start a new life or probably commited suicide in fear that Magnus's ghost would haunt her.
Musical AdaptationIn 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 they tell the children to wait for Phys.Ed wich one of them explain its the Trunchbull speciality meaning that's how she punished children or put them in the chockey same if they seem to warn them to becareful one students always ask 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 magic power to write a message from Magnus's ghost on the board. Then, Trunchbull is chased by a bunch of children who told her to run, and she runs away from the school. It's unknown what happened to her afterwards, but she most likely left the town, because any person of the town never heard something about her after this.
- 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 missed the fence and landed in a flower bed.)
- Locked countless kids including Matilda in the Chokey.
- 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 cake. But when he succeeded, she smashed the plate that had the cake onto Bruce's head, and then knocked him out and cursed him.
In the musical:
- Killed Magnus who was her brother-in law.
- She used some teens students to work for her to scare and bully the kids. (They realised 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 to the sky. (Only for her to fall on the ground or in the other students arms to be cheered)
- Forced Bruce to eat the entire cake, but when he did finished with the help of his friends, she then put him in the chockey and make him wear a sign saying "I Got To Put In The Chockey" to humiliated him even further.
Two of the most central aspects of Agatha Trunchbull's scorn for children and deviants, and cruelty towards the people that she believes are less than herself. In addition, as stated by David Leonard (one of the actors portraying her on the West End), that she is a deeply jealous and competitive individual. As such, Agatha is very quarrelsome, cantankerous, argumentative and unwilling to accept defeat in most circumstances.
She is very attached to her success as an Olympic athlete for Great Britain and she considers herself to be an idol for other people to follow. She is also very bitter, aggressive, self-confident and assertive, exhibiting her dominance around the school.
Later in the book and the film, it was confirmed (or heavily implied) that Trunchbull killed her own brother-in-law to steal his house and money after he broke a contract involving large sums of money. She spared her niece, but psychologically and physically abused her. This shows Trunchbull's avarice that may not be apparent at first glance. It is also likely that Trunchbull harbored intense jealousy as to Magnus's material success, which was fueled more vigorously by her vituperative nature. She also keeps of secret of being very superstitious and naive, which is a weakness that became exploited by Matilda. Despite her strictness, she orders her students to form a crowd and stampede into the school rather than walk slowly in a que, and she shouts "pissworm" in a classroom full of kids, so she has no trouble subjecting her students to swearing.
Miss Trunchbull is also shown to be very superstitious and has an intense fear of ghosts, black cats, and the supernatural in general. Her fear is later used as a weakness for Matilda to scare her thus teaching Miss Trunchbull a lesson.
In the musical, it is very clear that she has an acutely guilty conscience after killing Magnus and stealing his possessions. She is constantly trying to make herself think that she's a "winner" and most everyone else is a "loser". She surrounds herself with her trophies and reminds herself that, regardless of her emotions or the emotions of others, following the procedures of life is the only way to success. At the same time, the Trunchbull believes herself to be an extremely magnanimous and benevolent person, claiming that she is the "Spirit of All That Is Right", while at the same time accusing Matilda of being the "Axis of Evil". She is also shown to be a manipulative woman, as she hired some teenage students to work for her by scared and bullying the kids, but it was revealed that she just using them because of their own suffering she make them endure in their childhood, she is also afraid of a black cat and a ghost in the musical.
|“||They're all mistakes, children. Filthy, nasty things. Glad I never was one.||„|
|~ Ms. Trunchbull to Harry Wormwood.|
|“||Your mommy... is a TWIT!||„|
|~ Miss Trunchbull to Amanda.|
|“||You wanted cake, you got cake. NOW EAT IT!!!||„|
|~ Agatha to Bruce Bogtrotter.|
|“||Hop, two, hippity hop. The entire school will go to the assembly room, immediately. (Later) SIT!||„|
|~ Miss Trunchbull|
|“||Silence! Stop. Silence! (Later, she hits a plate full of Chocolate crumbs on Bruce Bogtrotter)||„|
|~ Miss Trunchbull, getting furious at the students who were rooting for Bruce Bogtrotter.|
|“||I cannot for the life of me understand why small children take so long to grow up. Think they do it deliberately just to annoy me.||„|
|~ Miss Trunchbull, complaining about children.|
|“||Ah, fresh meat.||„|
|~ Ms. Trunchbull, meeting Matilda for the first time.|
|“||Why are all these women married? Mrs D, Mrs I? You are supposed to be teaching spelling, not poetry!||„|
|~ Ms. Trunchbull to Miss Honey.|
|“||WORMWOOD!!! You useless used-car salesman scum! I want you around here now, WITH ANOTHER CAR! Yes, I know what "Caveat Emptor" means, you lowlife liar! I'm gonna sue you! I'm gonna burn down your showroom! I'm gonna take that no-good jalopy you sold me and SHOVE IT UP YOUR BAZOOGA! When I'm finished with you, you're gonna look like roadkill! You what?!||„|
|~ Agatha Trunchbull threatening Harry Wormwood.|
|“||Much too good for children.||„|
|~ Miss Trunchbull before eating a chocolate.|
|“||Shut up. The entire assembly will stay five hours after school and copy from the dictionary. Any children who object... will go straight to the chokey TOGETHER!||„|
|~ Agatha Trunchbull after her defeat from Bruce Bogtrotter's cake-eating confection.|
|“||Ms. Trunchbull: Ah! I knew it! You can't handle the little viper, so you want to foist her off to one of the other teachers! Typical slothful cowardice! Listen to me, Jen, the distance the shot-put goes depends upon the effort you put into it: PERSPIRATION! If you can't handle the little brat, I'll lock her in the chokey! (Hurls a shot at the chokey) Get it?||„|
|~ The Trunchbull upon finding out Matilda Wormwood is a smart girl.|
|“||You... will be put away in a place where not even the crows can land their droppings on you!||„|
|~ Miss Trunchbull to Matilda as she loses it.|
|“|| Use the rod, beat the child, that's my motto!|
|~ Ms. Trunchbull & Mr. Harry Wormwood.|
|“|| Ms. Trunchbull: Which one of you tried to poison me? Who? Oh, Matilda, I knew it.|
Matilda: I just thought you'd like to know it's not a snake. It's a newt.
Ms. Trunchbull: What did you say?
Matilda: It's a newt, Ms. Trunchbull.
Ms. Trunchbull: Stand up, you villainous sack of goat slime! You did this!
Matilda: No, Ms. Trunchbull.
Ms. Trunchbull: Did you act alone or did you have accomplices?
Matilda: I didn't do it.
Ms. Trunchbull: You didn't like the chokey, did you? Thought you'd pay me back, didn't you? Well, I'll pay you back, young lady.
Matilda: For what, Ms. Trunchbull?
Ms. Trunchbull: For this newt, ya little brat!
Matilda: I'm telling you, Ms. Trunchbull, I didn't do it.
Ms. Trunchbull: Besides, even if you didn't do it, I'm gonna punish you, because I'm big and you're small, and I'm right and you're wrong, and there's nothing you can do about it. You are a liar and a scoundrel, and your father is a liar and a cheat. You are the most corrupt lowlifes in the history of civilization. Am I wrong? I'm never wrong. In this classroom, in this school, I am GOD!
|~ Trunchbull, reacting to Matilda talking about a newt.|
|“|| Ms. Trunchbull: I am here to teach you all a lesson. Sometimes in life, horrible and unexplainable things happen. These things are a test of character. And I have character. Form a line across the room, quickly! Run, run, run — don’t keep me waiting! Fill this gap! (calms down a little) I expect you’re wondering what I’m talking about. Yes. A child came to my house. I don’t know how, I don’t know when, I don’t know why.|
Miss Honey: Miss Trunchbull, may I-?
Ms. Trunchbull: No, you may not. (turns back to the students) But I know a child came. So did you know it was illegal to enter someone’s home without their permission?
|~ Ms. Trunchbull and Miss Honey during Ms. Trunchbull's "lesson" to the children at Miss Honey's class.|
- Maggie Kirkpatrick was originally considered for the role Miss Trunchbull, but she wasn't authorized to work in the United States.
- It is widely believed that Trunchbull was based off the headmistress of Liccy Dahl (who served as a producer) - who reportedly got very creative with her punishments.
- Her line, "In this Classroom, In this School, I am GOD!" is one of the most controversial aspects of the movie.
- 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 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.