Agatha Trunchbull, more commonly known as Ms. Trunchbull or simply the Trunchbull, is the main antagonist of the novel, film, and musical versions of the critically acclaimed 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 is the stepsister-in-law of Miss Honey's deceased father, Dr. Honey, Mrs. Honey's husband. She is played by Pam Ferris in the 1996 film version
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 she's 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.
Role in the book Edit
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.