Ms. Honey v. Trunchbull

One of the earliest representations of teachers that some of us were exposed to came from Roald Dahl's "Matilda." Though on the surface the cast and portrayal do not seem gender-oriented, upon further analysis I feel that both characters of Ms. Honey and the headmistress, Ms. Trunchbull fall to certain ideals of masculinity and femininity.

As most would recall, Ms. Honey is the class' gentle, softspoken, and selfless homeroom teacher. Not only does she make learning for her students "fun" but also caters to their unacademic needs. At the end of the movie, she is the hero Matilda needs. Though, that notion of a female savior in itself is extremely heartwarming; one cannot deny that the character of Ms. Honey is rooted in a man's idea of what ideal femininity should be. She is gentle and quiet as "women should be." Her femininity is her charm, it is also what distinguishes her from the villainous headmistress.

In contrast, Ms. Trunchbull is overbearing. Someone with astounding physical strength and aggression. Though an abusive figure in the book, without a doubt, Ms. Trunchbull acts as the more masculine presence in the plot. One could argue that this reinforces the existing perceptions on how a woman should behave, how a teacher is expected to be liked, Aggressiveness doesn't look good on a woman, if she is physically strong and does not adhere to the hegemonic ideal of femininity she is more of a "man."




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