Animals in La Fontaine’s Fables

by admin

After having made you discover (or rediscover) the superb book by George Orwell “Animal Farm”, I would like to talk to you today about Jean de La Fontaine and his famous fables with animals.

Fables are short stories, often embellished with a dialogue, which serve to illustrate a moral. In La Fontaine’s Fables, animals are often its heroes and represent men. The purpose of the fable is to teach children what they need to know (moral), in a fun way. As Jean de la Fontaine said himself: “I use animals to teach people”.

Here are all the animals appearing in La Fontaine’s Fables: Lamb, Eagle, Lark, Donkey, Spider, Weasel, Ox, Goat, Sheep, Duck, Deer, Camel, Capon, Cat, Huant Cat, Bat, Horse, Goat, Dog, Cicada, Stork, Pig, Dove, Rooster, Crow, Cormorant, Swan, Dolphin, Dragon, Crayfish, Squirrel, Elephant, Falcon, Ant, Hornet, Gazelle, Jay, Heifer, Frog, Heron, Swallow, Hedgehog, Owl, Oyster, Laie, Rabbit, Hare, Lion, Wolf, Kite, Sparrow, Fly, Sheep, Mule, Bird, Bear, Peacock, Partridge, Parrot, Magpie, Pigeon, Fish, Hen, Flea, Rat, Fox, Nightingale, Scarab, Snake, Monkey, Mouse, Bull, Turtle, Vulture. Many different animal species are present there: mammals, fish, birds, insects, reptiles …

But why animals?

All of these animals are responsible for expressing human characters, both good and bad. They all have a specific role and each animal represents a stereotype: the lion is powerful, cruel and proud; the worker ant; the fox is cunning; the hypocritical cat, the lamb is gentle; the wolf is bloodthirsty; the rabbit is fearful; the imitating and flattering monkey… They serve as spokespersons and thus allow our poet to criticize authority without being censored.

Most of the known fables are contained in the first collection of fables: the Cicada and the Ant, the Crow and the Fox, the Frog who wants to be as big as an ox, the Town Rat and the Field Rat, the Wolf and the Lamb, the Fox and the Stork… Allow me to quote some of these famous Fables that everyone remembers:


The grasshopper and the ant

The cicada having sung
All summer,
Found himself very destitute
When the North wind came :
Not even a small piece
Maggot or worm.
She went begging
With its neighbor the ant,
Begging her to lend him
Some grain to survive
Until the new season.
“I will pay you,” she said to him, “
Before August, animal faith,
Principal and Interest. “
The ant is not lending :
That’s the least of his problems.
” What were you doing during hot weather ?
She said to this borrower.
– Day and night to all comers
I was singing, please.
– You were singing ? I am glad.
Well ! Dance now. “

The Cicada and the Ant – Jean de La Fontaine

The Fox and the Crow

Master Crow, perched on a tree,
Holding in its beak a cheese.
Master fox, by the enticing smell,
He held more or less this language:
Hey ! hello, Monsieur du Corbeau.
How pretty you are! you look so gorgeous to me !
Without lying, if your prattling
Relates to your plumage,
You are the phoenix of the hosts of these woods.
At these words the crow no longer feels joy;
And to show his beautiful voice,
He opens his beak wide, lets his prey fall.
The fox grabs it, and says: “My good sir,
Learn that every flatterer
Lives at the expense of the listener.
This lesson is certainly worth a cheese. “
The ashamed and confused raven,
Swore, but a little late, that we would not take him there anymore.

The Crow and the Fox – Jean de La Fontaine

The wolf and the lamb

The reason of the strongest is always the best :
We will show it later.
A Lamb quenched his thirst
In the course of a pure wave.
A wolf comes on an empty stomach who was looking for adventure,
And that hunger in these places attracted.
“Who makes you so daring to trouble my brew?
Said this animal full of rage:
You will be punished for your temerity.
– Sire, replies the Lamb, may your Majesty
Don’t get angry;
But rather than consider
That I’m going to quench my thirst
In the current,
More than twenty paces below Her,
And that therefore, in no way,
I can not disturb her drink.
– You trouble her, resumed this cruel beast,
And I know that you were gossiping about me last year.
– How would I have done it if I hadn’t been born?
Resumed the Lamb, I suck my mother again.
– If it’s not you, then it’s your brother.
– I don’t have any.
– So it’s someone of yours:
Because you do not spare me much,
You, your shepherds and your dogs.
I have been told: I must take revenge. ”
Thereupon, deep in the forests
The Wolf takes it away, and then eats it,
Without any other form of trial.

The Wolf and the Lamb – Jean de La Fontaine

In any case, Jean de La Fontaine won his bet: he wanted to educate and entertain his compatriots, from generation to generation. His Fables will remain in our favorite readings for a long time to come so that we will remember all those lessons that have not aged in more than 350 years!

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