Fable: noun; plural noun: fables
1. A short story, typically with animals as characters, conveying a moral.
The craft of storytelling comes in many forms. Among these is fable. These stories often classed as cautionary tales, teach the hearers moral lessons. The main characters are usually animals, though the circumstances of the tales are familiar everyday occurrences. The short story format, colourful non-human protagonists and the clear moral outcomes make the genre a great learning tool.
Fable is also powerful in its cultural and social significance. Personally, I find the fact that two of the best known fable-tellers were slaves. These are the Greek slave, Aesop, and Joel Chandler Harris’ fictional, post-Civil War, Uncle Remus. Their stories while seemingly innocuous are packed with social comment. But fables also speak to life more generally. Whether it is the hard-working ant or the lazy, fun loving grasshopper; the clever Brer Rabbit or the gullible Brer Fox we can relate to the characters and understand their virtues and weaknesses. This slave-story tradition shows the genre’s ability to record the ideas of a minority culture, while at the same time showing a socially diverse shared humanity. Not bad for a quick tale about insects or rodents.
The use of such allegories may be useful in your speech planning. They may lighten a “heavy” topic. They are also an excellent medium for storytelling in their own right. Why not give fables a try?