Teaching Students About Cruella
Cruella de Vil, the iconic antagonist from Dodie Smith’s novel “The Hundred and One Dalmatians” and Disney’s adaptations, is a captivating character that has intrigued audiences for decades. The recent live-action film “Cruella” provides a fresh perspective on her story through an origin tale. Educators can use Cruella’s complex character as a springboard for meaningful discussions about morality, motivation, and the gray areas between good and evil. Here are some ways to help students engage with the character of Cruella de Vil and explore these themes.
1. Studying the Evolution of Cruella’s Character
Challenge your students to analyze how Cruella’s character has changed throughout various adaptations. Begin with Dodie Smith’s novel, comparing it to Disney’s animated and live-action films. Encourage students to identify differences in her personality, motivations, and actions. Discuss why creators may have made these changes and how they affect each story.
2. Exploring Morality and Ethics
Ask students to reflect on Cruella’s motivations and reasonings within different contexts (novel, animated film, live-action film). Facilitate a debate on whether there are circumstances that justify her actions or even make her relatable. Students can further explore moral dilemmas by creating hypothetical scenarios where antagonists face difficult choices.
3. Analyzing Relationships and Influences
Encourage students to examine Cruella’s relationships with other characters in each adaptation (for example: Anita, Roger, Jasper & Horace) and how these connections shape her decisions. Ask them to focus on those relationships that may have been either positive or negative influences on Cruella’s life.
4. The Impact of Appearance and Fashion
Explore the role of fashion in the depiction of Cruella’s character – how it serves as an expression of her identity and a tool for control or manipulation. This topic allows students to delve into the historical and cultural context of fashion while considering its ethical implications.
5. Compare and Contrast with Other Villains
Invite students to compare Cruella de Vil to other classic literary or film villains, analyzing their motivations, characteristics, and actions. This exercise is an opportunity to discuss the role of villains in storytelling and their appeal to audiences.