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What is the Difference Between a Fable and a Tale

By Mary Smith. Updated: July 18, 2017
What is the Difference Between a Fable and a Tale

There are many literary genres and fables and tales are two of them. Although these two genres might look the same and even sometimes are confused, they have important distinctions. It is important to know the differences of both genres, as knowing this will improve the understanding of the story and the reason why the writer has chosen some characters and their purpose in the story. Read this oneHOWTO article and you'll find out what the difference between a fable and a tale is.

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Fable

Fables are usually short stories starring animals, plants, inanimate objects or mythical creatures that have human characteristics. The purpose of these stories is to leave some kind of lesson or moral learning to invite the reader to reflect on a particular topic. Fables are usually transmitted orally and are usually related to the moral of each culture's predominant religion.

It is a literary genre usually aimed at children, in which different morals that are important to learn are expressed. Some popular fables are The tortoise and the hare, The lion and the mouse and The boy who cried wolf.

What is the Difference Between a Fable and a Tale - Fable

Tale

Meanwhile a tale is a narrative that can be based on real or fictitious events and can contain all kinds of characters. There are various genres such as fairy tales, epics, historic, fantasy tales, ghost, among others.

The purpose may be to orally transmit a tradition, as seen in folk tales, or simply tell a tale. The ending doesn't necessarily need to be included, and there isn't always a moral to the story, as in the case of the fable.

What is the Difference Between a Fable and a Tale - Tale

Difference between the two

In conclusion, the main difference between fable and tale is that, on one hand, in fables the leading role is always played by an animal, an inanimate object or a plant with human characteristics. You will never find a fable where a human being appears. Contrary to this, the leading character of a tale can be anyone, a person or an animal and are not necessarily aimed for morality purposes.

Furthermore, fables are always short, while tales can be longer or shorter depending on the topic. Also, fables are always fictional stories, while tales can be based on real life events that have happened. Moreover, tales can be about any topic.

The structure of fables is very simple and it repeats in all the fables. There is an introduction, then a problem is presented, the problem is lately solved and at the end there is a moral learning for the reader. On the contrary, tales don't have a built structure and they can cover the topic in the way the writer wants.

Finally, fables are usually aimed at children, while there are many kinds of tales, for both children and adults.

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Amrita Bairagi
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