Much too good for children!

–Miss Trunchbull

Miss Agatha "Ag" Trunchbull, Ms. Trunchbull, or otherwise known as The Trunchbull, is the primary antagonist in the novel Matilda and its 1996 film adaptation. Miss Trunchbull is depicted as a large woman who wears her hair in a tight bun. Her outfit is a bottle-green tight pantsuit adorned with a brown belt with a silver buckle. She is a harsh, haughty, psychopathic, extremely cruel educator, and tyrant who terrorizes children, and states that she was glad that she was never a mistake. She is also wearing a dress shirt with a necktie as well.

She made weekly visits to every classroom and tended to take over, but mostly Miss Honey's, probably due to her being her step-niece.

Life as a Horrible Person

Agatha Trunchbull's parents presumably died when she was young, then she was adopted by Mrs. Honey's parents, explaining how they're half siblings. After high school, Thunchbull would compete in the Olympics in 1972, and became infamous for often using the hammer throw.

After her stepsister died, the Trunchbull was called in to look after her niece while Jennifer's father, Magnus Honey, was away at work, though unknown to her stepbrother-in-law, she was actually cruel to his daughter behind his back. When Jennifer was five, her father died. The police concluded that Magnus had killed himself, though it is very possible that the Trunchbull had murdered him so she could inherit his house and money. 

Several years later, Miss Trunchbull became the authoritarian principal (headmistress in the book) of Crunchem Hall. This was also the school where her niece taught at. Her idea of detention was to put children into a horrific torture device known as The Chokey, a tall narrow cupboard in a dripping pipe with jagged edges where the walls have broken glass and rusty nails sticking out. She became strict on rules; for instance she didn’t allow girls to have pigtails. She also doesn’t like boys with long hair. She once threw a girl named Amanda Thripp over the fence by her pigtails, forced a boy named Bruce Bogtrotter to eat an entire chocolate cake after stating that he stole her own personal chocolate cake, and once put a boy named Julius Rottwinkle into a terrible fatal state by throwing him out a fifth story window due to the fact that he was eating Liquorice Allsorts (M&Ms in the film) while she was speaking in scripture class.

After she was sold a purposely faulty car by shady car seller Harry Wormwood, Miss Trunchbull took out her anger on his daughter Matilda, punishing her severely by locking her in The Chokey. Matilda later retaliated by unknowingly causing a newt to jump onto her after the cup of water spilled and leaving her in a state of panic. The Trunchbull was later driven out of the school the next day while in Miss Honey's class after she was apparently haunted by the ghost of Magnus Honey, which was actually Matilda using her telekinetic powers, demanding that the Trunchbull hand over Miss Honey's house and money. Miss Trunchbull ran outside and was never seen again.


Agatha Trunchbull is malicious, pompous, wicked, haughty, dangerous, brutal, egotistical, sadistic, psychopathic, heartless, and cruel. Besides a passionate hate for children, she’s also power-crazed and greedy, trying to maintain a position of power in any way she can. She’s also an abusive sadist who sees violence as the best way when it comes to disciplining children and kept a vicious, makeshift torture chamber (which she called the Chokey) in her office.

In the film, she shows incredible degrees of hyper-paranoia, as she was terrified when Matilda raided her house and also mortified when she saw the portrait of Magnus, a man she probably murdered to inherit the estate, take the place of her own portrait over the fireplace.

Agatha is something of a ruthless disciplinarian who implies absurdly strict rules in her school, which include the banning of pigtails and eating in class. In the film, the Trunchbull displays something of a God complex, viewing herself as a woman in absolute power (and believing that she has rights over everyone and everything). However, it is revealed that, behind her "cruel woman" facade, Agatha is shown deep down to be a very fearful person, who is terrified of ghosts and the supernatural. In the film, she‘s also shown to be superstitious; this is shown in one scene when Miss Honey and Matilda see Agatha getting scared of a black cat, for which Miss Honey explained that the Trunchbull was "very superstitious." Even though she’s a strict disciplinarian, she says piss-worm to a child's face, so she has no trouble subjecting her students to foul and inappropriate language, and instead of queuing, she orders her students to run into the school in a disorganized, stampeding crowd. Despite her athletic prowess, she also loves to stuff her face with chocolates from a box and snacks on massive portions of chocolate cake.

Behind the scenes

Her fate in the film differed greatly from the book; in the book, the Trunchbull was traumatized by the message on the blackboard and briefly fainted. When she awakened, she was said to have left the school “tight-lipped and white in the face.”

In the film, she lost her sanity completely, ran amok through the school and ambushed a few of Matilda's classmates. But for each time she antagonized, she was thwarted by Matilda's telekinetic powers. Then, the entire faculty of school children, including Bruce Bogtrotter, bombarded her with objects such as food, water balloons, and toilet paper, most of which opened when they landed on her. The Trunchbull was pursued savagely out of the school, where she retreated into her car and hurtled out of the school, still chased by the rebellious mob of school children. She was never seen or heard from ever again; it was also said that she eventually followed the fake Magnus' orders and gave Miss Honey back her house and her money.


  • The fact that Miss Trunchbull was played by Pam Ferris is ironic, as Ferris would later go on to play the headteacher Mrs. Bevan in the 2009 film "Nativity".
  • She is also compared to Marge Dursley from the Harry Potter series, as both characters were played by the same actress. Both characters torment the main protagonists, who then used their powers to end their cruel habits.
  • She according to a reddit link[1] inspired the design and appearance of Aunt Lydia (played by Ann Dowd) from the 2017 Hulu series The Handmaid's Tale.
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