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Besides even if you didn't do it, I am going to 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're a liar and a scoundrel and your father is a liar and a cheat! You're the most corrupt lowlives in the history of civilization. Am I wrong? I'm never wrong. In this classroom, in this school, I AM GOD!
~ Trunchbull to Matilda and the classroom

Agatha Trunchbull is the main antagonist of the novel and film Matilda.

She is a domineering and abusive principal of Crunchem Hall Primary School. She prefers to subject students to extreme punishments. She also appears in the musical adaptation as the main antagonist.

She was portrayed by Pam Ferris in the film and by Bertie Carvel in the musical.

What Makes Her Pure Evil?

In the Novel

  • After the mysterious apparent suicide of her brother-in-law, Miss Honey's father, she takes over her house by apparently hiding her brother-in-law's will and abuses Miss Honey instead of taking care of her, forcing her to become her servant, beating her up and nearly drowning her if she didn't bathe like she wanted and precluding her from even going to college to serve as her housemaid.
    • Despite giving her niece an allowance, such allowance was miserable and became furious when Jennifer to decided to move in to a cottage.
    • Its strongly implied and speculated by Matilda that Trunchbull herself murdered Magnus herself so she could have full control over his wealth and usurp his estate. Trunchbull noticeably freaks out when the chalk writes that its Magnus's ghost when she wasn't afraid of the floating chalk before.
  • The Trunchbull prefers to give undeserved extreme punishments to the students that involves torture, regardless they are little kids or not, to the point that, according to Hortensia, some leave the school in stretchers, making them unbelievable so the parents will not believe their children. Among those:
    • Throws Julius Rottwinkle off the window of his class because he was eating candy, breaking some of his bones.
    • Grabs Amanda Tripp by her hair and throws her because she doesn't like her pigtails, even insulting Amanda's mother because she thinks they are cute.
    • Makes Bruce Bogtrotter eat a whole chocolate cake for stealing a slice from hers and thren beaks the plate on his head when all the students cheer for him.
    • Forces Nigel Hicks to stand on one foot and turn around for the rest of the class because he didn't wash his hands.
    • Pulls Rupert from his hair because he didn't answer a math question correctly, leading him to feel pain on his head for a whole week.
    • Pulls Eric Ink from his ears just because he mused that she started her life as a baby and for not answering correctly a spelling question, and mocks him by saying that he will look like a gnome for the rest of his life.
    • Grabs Wilfred from his leg because Miss Honey hadn't teach him how to learn a multiplication table in reverse.
  • She also punishes students for pranking her, and if she doesn't know who did the pranks, she wonders who did it, and guesses most of the time.
  • She prefers to lock students who annoy her in a torture-contraption called the Chokey. The contraption is in a closet space that contains nails, glass, and sharp objects. She would keep them locked inside the Chokey for hours.
  • Threatens to have Matilda expelled from the school for a prank she didn't commit and later accused her of humiliating her in class (though Matilda actually did that, but with her mental powers).
  • Hints about a bad childhood when she says she's glad she never was a child, yet her monstruous actions and abuse show it doesn't detract from the monster she is. The fact that she proud of her bad childhood is making her even less sympathetic.
  • She is portrayed very seriously with nothing redeeming to her character.

In the Film

  • Most of her actions and the punishments she gives in the novel, but unlike the novel:
    • Seems to have thrown Julius Rottwinkle from the second floor instead of the first floor for eating M&Ms during class, though Hortensia fortunately specifies that he survived.
    • Nearly gets Amanda Tripp killed when she grabs her by her hair and throws her, as Amanda was nearly impaled by a pointy fence, which she narrowly missed.
    • Forces Bruce Bogtrotter to eat a slice of chocolate cake for stealing a slice from hers and then forces him to eat the rest of the cake (that is implied to be filled with sweat and blood) sadistically. When the students cheer for Bruce and he finishes the cake, she still breaks the plate and on his head but takes him to be punished and then has the whole school stay five additional hours.
  • She broke Miss Honey's arm in the past.
  • She ends up putting Matilda in the Chokey just because Harry Wormwood, Matilda's father, scammed her by selling her a faulty car.
  • She assures Matilda that even if she didn't put a newt on her water jar (which is impossible, as Lavender put the newt on her jar while Matilda was locked inside the Chokey), she will still punish her because of her authority.
  • She threatens to kill Mr. Wormwood for scamming her.
  • She tries to murder Miss Honey and Matilda when they sneak into Miss Honey's former house, despite not knowing who was there.
  • She threatens to lock up Matilda in a place where no one will ever see her again nor the crows will be able to leave their droppings on her upon deducing that Matilda snuck into her house and burned her favorite portrait. When Miss Honey tried to defend Matilda, she also threatened her niece to break her arm again.
  • When Matilda scares her by posing like Magnus Honey's ghost, she grabs Nigel Hicks and throws him off the window from the second floor and tries to ram Lavender against the door, yet Matilda thankfully saves both of them.
  • While she arguably has some comical moments, like when she dances to get rid of the newt, she is still portrayed very seriously with nothing redeeming to her character.

In the Musical

  • She forces her pregnant sister, Miss Honey's mother, to work at the circus as a trapeze artist or be jailed up, and then cut the rope to kill her sister, yet Jennifer managed to survive and be born.
  • She murders her brother-in-law with a pistol, Miss Honey's father, one night after he comes home early and discovers that his daughter was starving while chained to the cellar, then frames his death like a suicide. While this is heavily implied yet unconfirmed in the novel and the film, it's confirmed in the musical.
  • Most of her actions and the punishment she gives in the novel and the film, but unlike both the novel and film:
    • She swings Amanda Thripp by throwing her into the air, causing Amanda to fall on the ground or in the arms of other students.
    • She forces Bruce Bogtrotter to eat an entire cake, but when he finishes it with the help of his friends, she has him locked up in the Chokey and forced to wear a sign saying "I Got Put In The Chokey" just to humiliate him more.
  • She has some teenage students work for her by scaring and bullying the children, making them torment kids like they were tormented by her.
  • She attempts to replace all of the school's classrooms with Chokeys to create an educational system where children will be tortured and not seen or heard.

Trivia

  • Despite being Pure Evil, in his Matilda review, the late film critic Roger Ebert described the Trunchbull as a "villainess children can enjoy, because she is too ridiculous to be taken seriously and yet really is mean and evil", despite that the Trunchbull's comical moments don't detract her villainy at all and is still portrayed seriously.
  • Agatha Trunchbull is, alongside the Grand High Witch and the 1989 film version of the Fleshlumpeater, one of the three Roald Dahl villains to be Pure Evil.
  • 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 admiting that Magnus's ghost wanted revenge on her for his murder in a panic attack.

Navigation

           Roald Dahl Pure Evils

Grand High Witch | Agatha Trunchbull | Fleshlumpeater (1989)

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