The films of Walt Disney and their written counterparts can reinforce compare and contrast skills in writing. Each film, centered on a beautiful princess, offers a plethora of contrasts between the original text and the story that made it to the big screen, such as Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.
Note to Teachers of Middle School Students
Before you read further and plan to implement this lesson, please be aware that the original text of Sleeping Beauty contains acts of rape and incest. It may be highly inappropriate reading material for younger readers. While the lesson does teach a valuable way for students to utilize compare and contrast, the Sleeping Beauty portion is meant for high school students.
The Brothers Grimm
Both stories were passed down to us by the now famous –or perhaps infamous—Brothers Grimm, sibling storytellers who we can credit with creating perhaps what is the longest lasting and most widely read anthology of all time. Their stories, many of which originate in Germany, are known, read and beloved around the world today.
The brothers themselves did not write these stories, but rather listened to countless folktales and legends, then condensed and compiled vast amounts of oral tradition into the written word.
Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are both known for their beauty, charm and grace and of course the unfortunate slumber cast on them by cruel witches. However, did you know that in the original tale, Snow White was almost killed three times? Did you know it was not a kiss that woke her up, but a stumbling dwarf? As for Sleeping Beauty high in her tower, did you know she had children? That she slept surrounded by the corpses of failed suitors? Sounds more the stuff of nightmares than Disney magic and yet, these events do happen in the original versions.
That is not to say the Disney versions do not offer their own magical and mystical view on the age-old legends.
Using the downloadable PowerPoints as guides, engage your students in some princess compare and contrast that will likely leave them surprised.