Difference Between Folktale and Fable

Folktale vs Fable
 

Folktales and fables can be understood as two different types of stories that show a difference between them. Mostly, folktales and fables are passed on from one generation to another orally. In our childhood, we all have listened to many folktales and fables . Based on our cultural background, our experience with these stories is quite different. This is because various cultural elements influence these stories. First, let us define the two words. Folktales refer to stories that have been passed down from ancestors of a particular group of people to the younger generations. On the other hand, a fable is a story with a moral or based on a myth. Through this article let us examine the differences between these two types of stories, the folktale and the fable.

What is a Folktale?

Folktales refer to stories that have been passed down from ancestors of a particular group of people to the younger generations. In this sense, folktales follow an oral tradition. Folktales are usually unique to groups of people. For instance, the folktales that are told to children in Britain may be completely different from the folktales of Japan. However, in most cases a folktale gives a moral to the listener. This is why most people confuse folktales with fables.

A key feature in a folktale is that it contains human beings as main characters. These characters can even possess special powers. It can contain other elements as well such as supernatural elements, wisdom, action, happy endings, and justice. The story usually consists of an obstacle that is being overcome by these characters. Folktales, sometimes, contain historical events as well, in which case, the story usually draws upon from various sources.

A folktale can be an adventurous story, a ghost story, a historical story, a fairy tale, or even a moral story. Andres Lang’s Fairy books, Charles Perrault’s Tales of Mother Goose can be considered as famous folktale collections.

Difference Between Folktale and Fable

What is a Fable?

A fable is a story with a moral or based on a myth. This highlights that teaching a moral is one of the basic functions of a fable. A fable is usually a simple and a short story that uses animals as main characters. These animals are usually given human-like characteristics. This is also known as anthropomorphism.

Aesop’s Fables’ is one of the best examples of fables in the Western world. There are also other collections such as Arnold Lobel’s Fables and Jams Thurber’s ‘Fables of our time.’ Just as folktales, fables usually pass on from one generation to another. However, there is an exception to this as well. In some cases, fables are written by authors. These do not come from a traditional background but have been created by an individual.

 Folktale vs Fable

Ant and grasshopper from Aesop’s Fables

What is the difference between Folktale and Fable?

Definitions of Folktale and Fable:

Folktales: Folktales refer to stories that have been passed down from ancestors of a particular group of people to the younger generations.

Fable: A fable is a story with a moral or based on a myth.

Passing Down:

Folktales: In most cases, folktales are passed on from one generation to another.

Fable: Fables too are passed on from one generation to another.

Moral:

Folktales: A folktale does not always provide a moral to the listener.

Fable: A fable always provides a moral to the listener.

Tradition vs Creation:

Folktales: A folktale is a part of a tradition of a particular group of people.

Fable: A fable might not be a part of a tradition. It can be created by an author as well.

Characters:

Folktales: In a folktale, the main characters are mostly human beings.

Fable: In a fable, animals are anthropomorphized and given human-like characteristics.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Sleeping beauty and Ant and the Grasshopper via Wikicommons (Public Domain)