Fable (Definition & Examples)

The word “fable” originated from the Latin word “fabula” which refers to the chronological sequence of events in a narrative. Here the fable definition & examples have been detail discussed.


The word “fable” originated from the Latin word “fabula” which refers to the chronological sequence of events in a narrative. The legendary fabulist Aesop, who wrote in ancient Greece, is the source of the majority of Western tales.

Let’s start fable definition.

Fable Definition:

Fable is a brief tale in prose and a short allegory. Non-human creatures or lifeless objects are normally the characters of fable. The imaginative characters are developed in fable and story is carried out through them.

Characteristics of Fable:

The presentation of human beings as animals is the characteristics of the literary fable. It is unlike that fable is flourished among primitive people.
According to Lessing, the Fable embodies a moral in a special case; this is vested with reality, and narrated as a story, which suggests the moral at once.

Many of the Fables turn upon the actions and characteristics of animals. This practice has arisen out of the circumstances that the animals chosen have a certain fixed character; as the cunning of the fox, the meekness of the lamb, the strength of the lion.

Well-known Fables:

There are many famous fables in history of literature. The purpose to write fable is to give some lesson and to apprise the readers about some reality and fact.
The well-known fable of the ‘hare and the tortoise’ teaches the lesson; ‘Slow and Steady wins the race’. Similarly, the story, ‘haste makes waste’ is also categorized to impeach lesson that every work should be done with due care and peace of mind.

Subject Matter of Fables:

The subject-matter of fables has sometimes to do with supernatural and unusual incidents and often draws its origin from folklore sources.

The fables attributed to Aesop, a Greek slave who lived around 600 B.C., are by far the most well-known, but those of La’ Fontaine, a Frenchman writing in the seventeenth century, are almost as well-known for their particular humor, wit, wisdom, and sprightly satire.

‘Bidpai’ is also one of the fables which was composed in Sanskrit in 300 A.D. This version was composed in different languages in 3rd and 16th centuries.

‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell is a political satire, which has been composed in the form of a fable which shows the destitute condition of African people and supremacy of white people over black. Further ‘droll fables of our time’ by James Thurber are also very famous.

What is Fabliau?

The fable definition has earlier been discussed. Fabliau is a short narrative in octosyllabic verse, consists of 300 to 400 lines. Although the form of fabliau is in French, but there are examples in Literature also, like Revve’s Tale and Chaucer’s Miller’s.

What is Fabula?

It is a form of comedy drama which remained popular in Rome until the period of Augustus. Beside the characters as discussed in fable definition, the characters of fabula were represented by masks. The famous authors of fabula were, Maccus, Paapus, Manducus, Dossenus etc.

What is Fabulation?

The term introduced by Robert Scholes in ‘The Fabulators’ which was used to describe the anti-vowel. It involved allegory and verbal acrobatics.

Writers of Fables:

Important fabulists are Gay (England), Lessing (Germany), Krylov (Russia). Further Marie de France who composed 102 fables in verse and La Fontaine are known as the world’s master fabulists. The imitators of La Fontaine were, Eustache de Noble, Pignotti, John Gay, J.P.C. de Florian and Tomas Iriarte.

Fables of Classical Literature:

The Fables of classical literature in which birds and beasts are made to think, speak and act like men, all teach some moral lessons.
For example, the story of the ‘Old Man, his sons, and the Ass” (illustrates the foolishness of trying to please everyone. The story of the Bundle of Sticks, which the young men couldn’t break as long as they were linked together, demonstrates the force and importance of unity.

The Hare and Tortoise:

‘Slow and steady wins the race’ is an Aesop’s fable in which a pompous hare challenges a tortoise to a race. The hare lingers in a field, dozing and nibbling on clover, knowing she has a good chance of beating her opponent. The tortoise, on the other hand, is nowhere to be found when she wakes up, having already passed the finish line. In the end, the tortoise’s slow and steady pace was victorious.

The Old Man and his son’s

This fable is also known as The Bundle of Sticks is an Aesop’s Fable whose moral is that strength comes from working together.
An elderly guy has several sons who are regularly at odds with one another. As he approaches death, he summons them to him and teaches them the importance of oneness. The old man placed a bundle of sticks before them and asked to break it, on their failure, he then said to untie the bundle and break it one by one. All the sticks easily torn into pieces and then he advised to unite like the bundle of sticks.

Animal Farm:

‘Animal Farm’ represents the Communist Party’s reign over Russia and the Soviet Union. Animal Farm, on the other hand, is a metaphor for any human society, whether capitalist, socialism, fascist, or communist. It has a government (the pigs), a police force or army (the dogs), a working class (the other animals), as well as state holidays and rituals. It’s symbolic status as a political entity dealing with diplomatic issues is bolstered by its location among a slew of adversarial adjacent farms.

The Goose and The Golden Egg

A famous fable which has been categorized over greediness. A man had a goose who lays a golden egg every morning. After selling the gold egg, he becomes rich. One day he decided to get all the golden eggs by killing the goose. As soon as he kills the goose and cut it opens, he found nothing.
The story actually teaches that one should remain content over what the God has given to him. Greed takes the person towards the dark side of his life which ultimately results in destruction.

The Mouse and the Lion

‘The Mouse and the Lion’ is also a well-known fable in literature. One day when the mouse runs over the sleeping lion, soon thereafter he was caught hold by the lion on his awakening. The mouse begs for pardon and requests to let him go. The lion accedes to his request and allow him to go away. After sometime, the lion found himself in a trap laid of hunters and then mouse rescues him from the clutches of hunters by biting the strips.

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