Let's face it, teachers, students aren't the only ones who love the darker characters. This opinion piece holds a mirror up for us and starts the discussion of why it is we love a good villain, and why our students will, too.
Starting a conversation with students and convincing them that they are going to love the unit is one of the trickiest parts of teaching. Here's a great gallery of literary villains to show them. See how many of these bad guys are familiar to them, and ask them what work of literature piques their interest the most.
There's nothing quite like showing the students a video or excerpts from a video to kick their imaginations into gear. Megamind (Dreamworks), for which this page provides a detailed summary, some key quotes and fun facts, is sure to be a hit with students, and lends itself to lots of literary activities centered around lovable villainy.
High school students will love this. Someone actually took the time to record all these tropes found in Megamind. Get students started and see if they can come up with some of their own. This would be a good introductory activity to then apply to literary anti-heroes.
One of the challenges of teaching literature is representing a parity of strong male and female characters. With that in mind, here's another list of literary villains…all women. Let your students have some choice in the work they elect to study.
It's time to have students come up with their own literary characters, and this wikiHow article provides a step-by-step process that is sure to be attractive to them. Even better yet, it provides sample villain brainstorm, backstory and excerpt sheets for you to use!
If you would like to examine the villain archetype with your students before digging in, this ready-made presentation provides clear explanation of common characteristics of villains, and even provides a sample poem and excerpt from a Disney film, breaking down each into a number of examples that clearly delineate the archetype.