Clara Clavel, better known by her nickname Miss Clavel, is the deuteragonist of Ludwig Bemelmans' Madeline books and all media based off it. She is a nurse (though some adaptations refer to her as referred to as a nun, which she is referred to by an Idiot Popopov) and a teacher teaching in the boarding school simply known as "The Old House in Paris". Her students consist of Madeline, Nicole, Chloe, Danielle, Anne, Sylvie, Yvette, Nona, Monique, Lulu, Janine and Ellie, the twelve little French girls. As befits how she’s a nun, Miss Clavel is Lawful Good or Lawful Neutral in alignment.
Miss Clavel has light skin and short, brown, wavy hair. She wears a nun-like attire with a dark blue nun's headdress, a blue dress, a dark blue cape, and black shoes. In previous seasons her nun attire is mostly composed of black compared to later seasons which is blue. At bedtime, she wears a pink nightgown with long sleeves and a pink shower cap.
Miss Clavel is known to be wise, caring, loving, and motherly, especially towards Madeline. She usually teaches the girls various moral lessons to solve their daily conflicts for them to gain better insights in reality. She can be seen teaching the girls science, math, literature, music and arts, sometimes even physical education. It is made obvious that her favorite student is Madeline due to her precociousness and wits.
In the live-action film she is also shown as an old, wise, caring, and still loving and motherly mostly towards Madeline due to being an orphan and being always picked by Vicki. Also in the film she enjoys playing pranks on the buyers of the Old House. Where as she is shown to be quite nervous in the animated series, like when she is fearful of driving a car, she is significantly less so in the film, driving a Citroën 2CV when she is looking for Madeline and Pepito.
It is revealed in Madeline's Winter Vacation that her first name is Clara, in which she has a German or Swiss nephew named Hans (but it is unknown which of his parents is related to her) and an aunt named Hilda (but likewise, it is unknown which of her parents is related to Hilda).
Miss Clavel was played by Frances McDormand in the 1998 film.
- Aside from her voice, Miss Clavel’s character portrayal differs from each film she is in:
- Her portrayal in Madeline: Lost in Paris is the closest to her usual character projected in the animated series, that with her being the motherly and loving maternal figure to the girls, especially Madeline. Throughout the special, she can be seen expressing her anxiety and worry over Madeline’s well-being after being whisked away by her so-called Uncle “Horst”.
- In the 1998 film, she is portrayed as a rather realistic individual who has a soft spot for Madeline, who she sees and treats as her daughter. This side of her was further emphasized during the climax of the movie where she went all the way to rescue Madeline, and in the final part of the movie where she tried to comfort Madeline and assured her that they will always be together no matter what.
- In My Fair Madeline, she is portrayed as being strict and stern, but nevertheless, caring.
- In Madeline in Tahiti, she is portrayed as being less patient than she usually is, scolding Madeline for something she did not do, and getting angry at Pepito after thinking that he was the one who ruined her rose bushes. In the same film, Miss Clavel also wanted to retire after suffering from a cold. She is also shown to have a mischievous side here, as she enjoyed scaring the Scar-faced man’s minions by saying that Genevieve is capable of “tearing them limb from limb” should they not reveal Madeline and Pepito’s whereabouts.
- In both the original book series and animated adaptations, Ludwig Bemelmans confirmed that she is a teacher, and contrary to popular belief, the Old House is a boarding school, not an orphanage; the 1998 live-action film depicts her as a nun, and in the Tagalog-language dub of the animated series, she is addressed as "Sister Clavel", likely due to religious sensitivities as the Philippines is a traditionally-Catholic country.
- Miss Clavel might have a tendency to sing Something Is Not Right whenever she senses danger.