What is a fable definition and meaning?


What is Fable?

There are a lot of different genres and one of them is fable. So what does fable mean?

Fable story as a genre of literature is based on folklore traditions. It combines signs of a fairy tale about animals and the life wisdom. Characters who came to the fable from folk have special features of character and behavior.

For example, the fox always cheats and tricks, the lion aspires to power, the hare is afraid of everything, the donkey is constantly taken for a fool. A key feature of fable, like folk tales about animals, is an allegory – the transfer of human qualities and relationships, general representations of them on specific images (animals, plants, people, objects). Allegory is a way of communication through implications.

For example, the image of the wolf allows the fable-writer to show cruelty, and then show injustice and lawlessness. Allegorical animal characters reflect the world of people, their relationships, the notion of virtue and vice.

Fable story characteristic features

It’s pretty easy to define fable story if you know its  characteristic features:

  • small size
  • allegory of characters
  • hidden content, implications
  • instructive character
  • ridiculing of a person wickedness and defects of society
  • core –  moral principles of life and behavior
  • clear structure (story and morality at the end)
  • open presence of the author
  • the presence of witty and accurate statements, which often become proverbs.

Understanding of fable meaning

Usually moral illnesses of human society are revealed in fable stories: bullying of strong over weak, desire for wealth at any price, cruelty, excessive trust, falsehood, arbitrariness, injustice, and others.

By exposing the flaws, the fable tellers simultaneously glorify the high moral qualities of the person: honesty, kindness, hard work, modesty, natural mind, etc.

In a fable tale there is no extensive plot, loose descriptions, large number of characters. A certain problem concerning human behavior is revealed in this genre on an example of a simple situation.

Fable examples – the most famous fable tales

  • The Ants and the Grasshopper
  • The Country Mouse and the City Mouse
  • The Fisher and the Little Fish
  • The Fox and the Crow
  • The Lion and the Mouse
What is a fable definition and meaning

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