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Who's afraid of Cruella de Vil? New stories are humanising female villains of old

By Michelle Smith, Senior Lecturer in Literary Studies, Monash University
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Disney’s new live-action Cruella transforms the infamous Dalmatian killer into an aspiring fashion designer who is driven to embrace the darkness and a life of crime.

It is the latest adaptation reclaiming female villains of fairy tales and children’s literature, providing them with an origin story — and extending them a degree of sympathy.

The female villain is common, in part, because of the Brothers Grimm.

As the Brothers collected and published fairy tales in the early 19th century, they progressively changed these stories to conform…


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