|First appearance||Matilda (1988)|
|Created by||Roald Dahl|
|Portrayed by||In the film:|
In the musical:
|Nationality||British (in the book) American (in the film)|
Miss Agatha Trunchbull, also known as Miss Trunchbull or simply The Trunchbull, the fictional headmistress of Crunchem Hall Primary School (or Elementary School), is the main antagonist in Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel Matilda and in the 1996 film and 2011 musical based on the novel. She is said to look "more like an eccentric and rather bloodthirsty follower of the stag-hounds than the headmistress of a nice school for children".
Fictional character biography
Miss Trunchbull is depicted as a "gigantic holy terror, a fierce tyrannical monster who frightened the life out of pupils and teachers alike" notorious for her brutal and wildly idiosyncratic discipline: trivial misdeeds (including simply wearing pigtails) incurring punishments up to potentially-fatal physical discipline. Her hatred of children is so great she denies ever having been a child herself.
She is revealed to be the paternal aunt (or step-aunt in the film) of Matilda's sweet-natured primary school teacher Miss Jennifer Honey. Miss Trunchbull served as Jennifer's childhood guardian after the passing of her parents. It's strongly implied that Agatha murdered Magnus Honey, Jennifer's father, and made it appear a suicide. Agatha then became the legal owner of the Honey estate and Jennifer's legal guardian. Jennifer's exposure as a little girl to Agatha's abuse rendered her soft-spoken and timid. Jennifer admits she became Agatha's slave, doing the chores and housework. Once Jennifer graduated school and teachers' training college, Agatha seized hold of Jennifer's salary.
Out of adoration for her schoolteacher, Matilda uses her telekinetic abilities to drive Agatha from her own house one day by posing as Magnus's spirit and levitating a chalk stick to scrawl a message on the board. Terrified, Miss Trunchbull subsequently vanishes, and gives back her house to her niece, after which Miss Honey becomes the new headmistress.
It is revealed that Miss Trunchbull is 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. She is afraid of chicken legs.
Miss Trunchbull was a past shot putter, hammer, and javelin thrower in the Munich Olympics. She often throws children and uses a crop to scare children as punishment, which often ends in accidents or injuries. She is brutal to all children and also made a boy (Bruce Bogtrotter) eat a colossal chocolate cake as punishment for apparently eating a piece of her own chocolate cake only to make the children rewrite the dictionary by hand and blaming Bruce for eating the whole cake in the first place.
As children, Roald Dahl and his friends played a trick on the local sweet-shop owner—a “mean and loathsome” old woman named Mrs Pratchett—by putting a dead mouse in a gobstopper jar. This would inspire Dahl to include a scene in Matilda where Matilda’s friend Lavender puts a newt into the water jug of Miss Trunchbull.
- Dahl, Roald (2012). Roald Dahl: Three Tales of Magic and Mischief. Random House. p. 214.
- Trunchbull, Agatha. Matilda. Jonathan Cape.
- "Dahl's childhood sweetshop and its influence on his books". BBC News Online. BBC Online. BBC. 13 September 2016. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
- Swain, Cynthia (2011). Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Benchmark Education Company. p. 12. ISBN 9781450929554.
- Masters, Tim (7 December 2011). "Bertie Carvel plays Miss Trunchbull in Matilda The Musical". BBC News Online. BBC Online. BBC. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
- Piepenburg, Erik (4 February 2014). "Christopher Sieber Joins the Cast of 'Matilda'". NY Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 4 August 2019.