Difference Between Fable and Parable

Fable vs Parable

We all grow up listening to fables and parables from our grandparents and reading these stories from story books meant for kids. We think we know the differences between a fable and a parable though it is hard for most of us to tell these differences. Both are short stories that carry a message or a moral for the reader or listener. They could also be about a universal truth, virtue, or any other concept. This article tries to highlight the differences between fables and parables.


Fable is a very short story containing talking animals or forces of nature and one that teaches us a moral lesson. Often the moral of the story is expressed at the end of the story to make children learn a lot from the short story. Aesop’s fables are the most famous fables around the world though Jatak Kathayein from Budhism and Panchatantra written by Vishnu Sharma in Hindu religion are also very popular fables. Even epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata contain fables within them that are very good moral lessons for people till today.

Talking animals, plants and other inanimate objects are chief characteristics of fables, the best examples of which are The Fox and the Grapes and the Ant and the Grasshopper.


Parable is a short story that teaches a moral lesson to the reader or listener. Parables contain human characters only, and they are drawn from real world situations with real problems and real struggles of people. They also have spiritual flavors. The Good Samaritan and The Prodigal Son are two of the most well-known parables from the Gospel. The word parable comes from the Greek Parabole which means to draw comparison or analogy. One can learn how to behave and react when faced with a dilemma in real life situations as these parables teach by comparing the actions and behaviors of characters in them.

What is the difference between Fable and Parable?

• Both parables and fables are short stories containing moral lessons for the readers but, whereas parables contain human characters only, fables are known to have talking-animals and plant with even super natural forces.

• Fables are set in an imaginary world, whereas parables have real humans facing the real world problems.

• Parables often have spiritual or religious aspect, whereas fables stay away from religion.

• Tortoise and the Hare and The Fox and the grapes are some of the most popular fables whereas The Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan are examples of most popular parables.

• There are also secular parables such as The Emperor’s New Clothes.