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Fridge / Matilda

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As a Fridge subpage, all spoilers are unmarked as per policy. You Have Been Warned.

Fridge Brilliance

The Book
  • Hortensia acts rather mean to Matilda and Lavender. Of course, since she had been going to school at Crunchem Hall for several years by the time Matilda started there, she might already be used to the Trunchbull and her abusive teaching methods to the students there by that point, and has likely seen many younger students like Matilda and Lavender be punished with cruel and unusual methods.

1996 Movie

  • Miss Honey acts as a Mama Bear for Matilda, but she seems to accept the abuse Aunt Trunchbull bestowed on her with stoic resignation. Part of the reason is that she sees great potential in Matilda, the grace and confidence that Trunchbull squelched in Miss Honey when the latter was a child, and part of it is knowing what it's like to have the world tear away that confidence. Miss Honey in both the book and movie clearly doesn't believe that she deserves better in life, since she doesn't actively fight for the things she deserves like her inheritance or her wages. Seeing Matilda risk experiencing the same thing, though, from Miss Trunchbull and the Wormwoods? For Miss Honey, it becomes a case of We Are Not Going Through That Again and You Are Better Than You Think You Are.
  • In the movie, the Wormwoods go to Guam to get away from the FBI. Guam is a territory of the U.S. and the FBI would certainly be able to find them there. But, since they are incredibly stupid, TV-watching slobs, they probably didn't think of that point for one second. (Of course, that's assuming they were telling the truth about their planned destination.) This again proves how self-defeating it is to dismiss intelligence, since Matilda could point out that fact.
  • Matilda's favorite author is Charles Dickens... who is the Trope Codifier for stories about the system failing abused children.
  • When Matilda says "whoever painted the Trunchbull must have had a really strong stomach", she means "It's amazing that someone was able to complete a painting of the Trunchbull without throwing up".
  • Why does Matilda dispose of evidence when the FBI search the house? We know from the narrator that at least part of the reason is Matilda's futile hope that Harry will eventually see the error of his ways, which he could only do if he's still a free man. But a better and more pragmatic reason is Matilda knows that if her parents are arrested, she'll be put into foster care probably away from her friends and Miss Honey. And her plan is for Miss Honey to adopt her.
  • The Trunchbull notably doesn't do anything when Miss Honey frees Matilda from the Chokey, in spite of all her strength and rampant threats against anyone disobeying her, adult or child. Foreshadowing that she's just a bully and she'll be powerless once the school stands up to her.
  • It isn't a coincidence that Matilda's father and the narrator are played by the same actor. If Harry was dumb enough to stay on U.S. soil by fleeing to Guam, he likely ended up in prison. Being incarcerated taught him a good lesson and made him realize how much of a cruel moron he was. The movie is about Harry recounting how rotten he was for not caring for and appreciating Matilda.


  • Matilda mispronounces words in the play. It's easiest to tell in the soundtrack, where she mispronounces 'anticipation' as "ancipation", 'slippery' as "slippy", 'atmospheric' as "atmospharic", and a few other words. (Weirdly, 'escapologist' is pronounced exactly correct.) Note those examples are from the extremely dramatic and serious 'Story' songs, not the comedic songs where mispronunciations might be funny. And while a young actress might mispronounce words in the play, presumably someone would have caught that on the released songtrack. But these mispronunciations are entirely on purpose... because Matilda, like many very intelligent children her age, learned the words via reading them, and hasn't actually practiced their pronunciation yet.
    • 'Slippy' isn't childish in the UK where the musical is set.So unsure on this example.
  • Matilda's class stands up to the Trunchbull. Just before everyone gets sent to Chokey, Matilda writes on the chalkboard as Magnus. The Trunchbull is never seen again, and the schoolkids sing "Revolting Children", which includes the two lines "And we won't forget the day we fought / for the right to be a little bit naughty". An audience member knows Matilda had to piece a lot of clues together, and use her powers to defeat the Trunchbull. But the kids don't. They're in the youngest class, and managed to stand up to the Trunchbull. Just when things were looking bad for them, "Magnus" showed up and placed the straw that broke the camel's back. So they've just worked with a ghost to achieve the impossible. Fought for the right, indeed.
  • The blackboard scene is taken straight from the book, but it's even more appropriate here. In the book Ms. Trunchbull only thought she was seeing a ghost. However, in the musical, it's implied that Matilda is either directly possessed or communing with Magnus himself. So effectively, it truly is Magnus enacting his revenge. This would also explain why Matilda lost her powers afterward. Magnus moves on and thus Matilda has no power other than her own mind.
    • Even better, the word 'Magnus' is a title given to a powerful magician. Badass from beyond the grave, anyone?
      • How's this; if Magnus is the reason for Matilda's power, that explains why Matilda knows his and his family's story, as well as why Matilda hears stories and thoughts seemingly out of her control, like in "Quiet". That all is one of the main reasons the theory is so profound in this version. But think; the story Matilda tells has a lot of very silly or unrealistic moments: the name of the dangerous act, some of the more fantastical elements of the Honey-Trunchbull family, and to a lesser extent, the acrobat breaking her bones instead of being impaled or bitten. But if Magnus knows he's telling the story to a little girl, he probably wants to scare her as little as possible, as well as make her and everyone else think she came up with the story. Plus, his love and devotion for his wife and hatred of Trunchbull probably tainted some of his descriptions (granted, from what we see of Trunchbull, his descriptions of her probably aren't that far off, but still). The trick probably had a shorter name, and just didn't have a safety net when it really should have. Why did he let her see Miss Trunchbull in full force? Because she'd seen it all before, so she probably wouldn't be too scarred by a little more.
      • Additionally, she gains her powers both when she's at the absolute low point of her life, and when Miss Honey is being scolded by Miss Trunchbull right in front of her. He's probably more than a little angry at the Trunchbull for mistreating another child and his surviving daughter.
  • The song "Revolting Children" is about how the kids are reclaiming the term 'revolting', which is used to disparage them as disgusting by Miss Trunchbull. But the title also has a Double Meaning: revolting can mean "disgusting", but it's also a word used to describe a mutiny or an overthrowing of a system of power. Throughout the song, the kids are jumping around and loudly proclaiming that they won't be silenced any longer. They are literally revolting children in both senses of the word — children trying to throw a revolt, against an authority figure who considers children to be revolting.
    • Additionally, the reference to Revolting Rhymes has some significance, it shows passive characters–all girls–breaking out of their stories and changing their fates just like Matilda.
  • In School Song, the lyrics are designed so it sounds like the alphabet is being spelt out during the song. There are a few instances where letters of the alphabet are being sounded, however the actual letters aren't used (for instance, the C in cage is emphasised, but it's used for K. For the letter Q they use the word curious, and most notably for Z they use the term phys-ed). However, this makes sense for children - they don't necessarily know proper spelling, or realise that different letters can sound similar depending on their use.

The Musical (Movie)

  • Matilda revealing where Nigel is hiding, but making the story that he was there for an extended period of time after he fell asleep and was put there for safety, not only saved Nigel, but also the rest of the children; had Trunchbull found him, he would've been punished, but the rest of them would've been punished too for trying to hide him.
  • Trunchball saying that the Chalkboard is 'A Cheap Trick just like Magnus used to do' could be referring to his Escaping act or could be hinting that he had powers similar to Matilda
    • This is also hinted at when the bucket is crushed as Matilda imagines the part of the story where Magnus drives off to face Trunchball.

Fridge Horror

The Book

  • In the book, it is mentioned in passing that Matilda read Tess of the D'Urbervilles, which deals with the titular character having been raped. It's mentioned to highlight Matilda's status as a Child Prodigy, but still, it's more than a bit horrifying to think about a five-year-old reading something of that subject matter.
    • She mentions to Miss Honey that she didn't understand some of the finer points of the books she was reading, so she might not have clearly understood that aspect of the story.
      • Fridge, but Miss Honey might acknowledge this in-universe: she is taken aback by Matilda's reading, probably not just by the fact that she is reading and has read so many books, but also the topics of some.
    • Also, Tess of the D'Ubervilles was written in such a way that what's happening isn't ever said directly. Instead, the reader uses their own knowledge and ability to read between the lines to work out exactly what happened (most of the books Matilda reads are written in the same way, incidentally). Despite being incredibly intelligent, it's unlikely Matilda at five years old had enough worldly knowledge to work out exactly what was going on, only the very basic gist of it.
  • Miss Honey's story is horrific enough without any reading-between-the-lines, but older readers may notice that she actually says very little about what the Trunchbull did to her: she only said that it was too awful to talk about.
  • If Miss Honey's hypothesis that geniuses can develop psychokinesis just from not being challenged enough, that's actually pretty disturbing when you think about it.
  • If Matilda is wrong and Magnus wasn't killed by the Trunchbull, but if Miss Honey is right that it wasn't suicide, that means that his murderer may never have been caught.

1996 Movie

  • Bit of a Meta example, the song "Little Bitty Pretty One" by Thurston Harris plays when Matilda learns how to control her powers. While on the surface it's a whimsical moment, on the meta level, it's the same song used when Christine goes after her first victim. And since stuff gets real later on after that montage.....
  • Matilda's trigger for her telekinetic abilities was being pushed around by her family and the Trunchbull. Late in the movie, she's using said abilities effortlessly to impress her teacher and later screw with Trunchbull. It's likely her mind developed past said trigger, but if that's not the case, Matilda HAS to remember some moment in her life where she had to take a lot of crap from someone (most likely her family) in order to access her abilities, which can be just as painful as actually experiencing the moment in question.
  • "Magnus" threatens to kill the Trunchbull. Except "Magnus" is Matilda! Though it's likely Matilda only intended to Scare 'Em Straight, the implication is still frightening.
    • Maybe a little less so when you consider that children sometimes do that as they don't understand just what the ramifications — it's not uncommon for children, especially ones Matilda's age, making death threats or threats of violence and not actually mean it because they don't understand it. Matilda very likely overheard it from the telly or even learned it from one of her books.
    • The book also contains a veiled death threat in the same scene ("If you don't [give Miss Honey her wages and house, and leave] [...] I will get you like you got me"), though again it's very likely that Matilda wasn't going to follow through with it.
  • While it's only implied, Trunchbull's terrified reaction when "Magnus" accuses her of being responsible for his death.
  • In a darkly sinister sort of way, all of Trunchbull's outlandish punishments are brilliant in how they help her cover up her abuse of the children, even if they largely come from her being a Roald Dahl character. The more outlandish her punishments over minor offenses, the less likely the children are believed. A parent would entirely believe and be angry over their child being hit or otherwise, especially if the child shows the resulting bruise/wound. But what parent would properly believe their child being thrown across the schoolyard by their hair for wearing pigtails, or being forced to eat a stomach-burstingly large chocolate cake as punishment for being accused of stealing cake? Any adult would dismiss it as a childish attempt for sympathy, and any evidence the child can show for either one is useless at bestnote .
    • In the book, Matilda and Lavender have a conversation about Trunchbull's punishments and Matilda makes this exact point - Trunchbull gets away with everything because everything she does is so outrageous and ridiculous. Matilda even comments that no parent would believe that the pigtail incident ever happened, and that Amanda's hair won't be cut off by her mother - Amanda would do it herself.

The Musical (Movie)

  • Before she reveals her punishment of Bruce Bogtrotter, Trunchbull has all the teachers sans Miss Honey dismissed from the room. This is likely another way she goes unreported, as while she may believe she is able to browbeat and frighten Miss Honey into silence (due to being her abusive step-aunt) and the students themselves, but allowing her cruelest punishments to be witnessed directly by the entire faculty would make it much more difficult to cover up. Having them all dismissed (which appears to be standard practice judging by their quick response) creates Plausible Deniability for the teachers and makes them more easier to intimidate and less likely to be spurred to action.
  • We see that the Trunchbull puts up with Amanda's pigtails, except for the scene where she throws her across the schoolyard with them. The Trunchbull is already aggravated that morning due to a prank, and she doesn't know who's responsible. It's possible that her anger about that situation was taken out on Amanda, who wouldn't usually have had to worry about something like that happening.
  • Even though Trunchbull getting someone to see if Amanda is still alive after she was thrown mainly seems to be played for laughs, it does raise a disturbing question: has the Trunchbull ever actually punished a child in a way that ended up being fatal?