A fable is a story with animal characters which teaches a lesson or has a moral. The animals speak like humans and normally have a specific quality, such as the slow tortoise and the speedy hare. A famous fable writer was Aesop. Characters do not develop much in the story and humour is often used. Fables are made-up stories but often make important points about real life. The fable (In Greek language “Muzos” which you can literally translate as “myth”) has its own evolution over time, according to the development of the people expressing it and their culture.
“Animal Farm” is written by George Orwell. The animals of Manor Farm overthrow their human master and look forward to a new way of living, one with peace and freedom, but when the pigs of the farm take control of Animal Farm, they create havoc and all animals are soon back to their old ways and conditions of starvation, overwork and intimidation. The animals have not succeeded in their desire to be equal. This is shown when Benjamin reads out on a wall, “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”.
This story fulfils many of the characteristics of a fable. The characters do show many human strong points and also display human weaknesses and faults such as greed, pride and vanity. This case can be seen in two pigs who personify greediness physically and mentally; particularly physically when Squealer promotes that they keep all the milk and apples because it is necessary for pigs to have foods like this in their diet in order to give them the strength to lead effectively. Sycophancy is shown by Boxer when he says “If Comrade Napoleon says it, it is right” and “Napoleon is always right”.
Why Are Animals Used In Fables
When all the animals were learning to read they couldn’t remember all seven commandments and Snowball narrowed it down to one commandment which was “Four legs good, two legs bad”. The sheep, especially, really believed this commandment and chanted it through the farm repeatedly. This illustrates another of the human faults often shown in a fable; that of gullibility.
The weakness of vanity is also exposed in the second chapter when Molly the pony takes a piece of ribbon from Mrs Jones’ dressing table and was holding it against herself and “admiring herself in the glass in a very foolish manner”
“Animal Farm” also relates to a fable for it does express a moral message and the story is trying to communicate a lesson. It suggests that war is not the answer and that having power can change everything, and can affect people in negative ways.
At dark times of the story they use humour, which is often used in fables, such as when the assassination of a “traitor” ram is described. He is chased round a bonfire when he has a cough! The story is suitable for children as it has a fun, fairy tale element and uses understandable vocabulary.
Most of the characters in the story we know very little about as individuals. Many are just grouped by their species, such as the “pigs” and “hens” but others have names and are more developed in the chapters. Napoleon’s motives are explored and he shows his evil side when Snowball is chased off the farm, and Boxer evokes the reader’s sympathy when he gets hurt, as we have come to appreciate his straight-forward and honest character which the author has developed through the story.
Unlike most fables, “Animal Farm” does not quote a moral at the end of the story, which makes it hard for the reader to realise it is a fable and that there is a message behind it. After reading the story, which is also quite different from a traditional fable because of its length, the reader is left to figure out what the lesson is and what good human points and bad human points are being expressed.
In conclusion, “Animal Farm” is a fable but has its own subtle elements. I think that making the story longer than any other fable creates drama and makes the reader think hard about whether it is a fable, has a moral or is trying to send a message about what happens in everyday life.