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Fable

 

Disciplines > StorytellingStory Devices > Fable

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

A fable is a story that teaches a moral point using animals and plants, which often talk and act much as humans do.

Example

The snake was thirsty and asked the elephant the way to the distant water hole. The elephant kindly pointed the way. On another day, the elephant could find no fruit and asked the snake if there were any in the trees. 'Yes', smirked the snake but would not tell the elephant where. A year later, in the next dry season, the snake was thirsty again and asked the elephant to point the way to the water hole. 'No', said the elephant. 

One day, Mr. Fox was particularly hungry, and, being a clever old so-and-so, he  he raided the hen house, ignoring their terrified shrieks as he gobbled them all down. He laughed as he waddled home and laughed as he heard the farmer had given up and left. He slept for a long time and woke up hungry, but there were no chickens left.

Discussion

By putting animals in the leading roles, the fable makes a difficult teaching point easier to accept. Yet we still associate with the animals as they are given human qualities.

Fables are often short, making their point clear (which is often important for children) and also making them easier to remember and tell others. Children find magical creatures easier to believe than adults, making the fable even more powerful for them.

There are a number of stereotypes for animals in fables. Owls are wise, foxes are cunning, elephants have a good memory, and so on. Some come from Aesop's original tales. Some are even biblical, such as the slippery, evil snake.

The word 'fable', of course, is the root of the word 'fabulous'. And it would be fabulous indeed if animals were wise and talked.

See also

Parable

 

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