What Are Characteristics of Fables?

A fable is a short narrative form that is best known for having non-human beings as main characters and ending with a moral. What makes the animals in fables different from human beings is mainly their physical form, though they may display stereotyped personality traits relating to their animal natures.

The characters in fables, which could be depicted as animals, plants or things, are people in almost everything but appearance. They talk, think and act like human beings, although they often retain some characteristics of their species, as with Aesop’s tortoise and hare. The animals are therefore chosen to represent and accentuate the characteristics and flaws of different types of human beings. The satiric character of fables is thus made possible, along with the use of symbolism and allegory. A fable talks about the weaknesses of its main characters, the animals, while actually treating the subject of human beings.

A moral lesson is an integral part of a fable. It is often a lesson on how to behave properly, and it also generally uses allegory to demonstrate desired and reprehensible behaviors. Although the point of the story is often made apparent from the beginning, fables usually end with a sentence that lays this out clearly.