Literary Analysis Essay

Topics: Fable, Jean de La Fontaine, Aesop's Fables Pages: 5 (1170 words) Published: February 5, 2015


Literary Analysis Essay
La Fontaine's Fables
Peter Arowolo

Jean de La Fontaine was a widely read 17th century French poet, he is best known for his fables, which have been read and greatly appreciated by generations of children and writers in many languages. He also wrote comedies and verse tales derived from Boccaccio. Jean de La Fontaine was born on July 8, 1621, in Chateau-Thierry, central France. He was the son of a government official. He studied at a Catholic Jesuit college and was qualified as a lawyer. He held a number of government posts, but they did not pay as much money as Fontaine wanted. He married an heiress when he was 26 years old, but the marriage didn't last; they separated in 1658. He then depended on wealthy patrons to help fund his writing and living expenses. Among his friends was the poet Jean Racine. His first success came with Short Tales, published when he was 43. His stories were about love affairs based on the works of Italian authors, such as Giovanni Boccaccio. They went through four editions during La Fontaine's lifetime, but the last edition, considered too obscene by the authorities, was banned. La Fontaine's first Fables was published when he was 47-years-old. Based on the fables of the ancient Greek Aesop, they are simple, humorous tales with talking animals as the main characters. As common to all of Aesop's fables, La Fontaine's tale has a moral, little instruction about how life should be lived. La Fontaine's versions of the stories though were longer and more complex than Aesop's. In his Fables, second volume, La Fontaine based his tales on stories from Asia and other places. Again his versions had better dialogue and well-rounded characters than the originals. La Fontaine’s fables such as the crow and the Fox and the wolf and the Lamb are closely related. In these fables something similar is implied. Both of these fables the animal’s tactics have greed of some sort as their basis: they aim to justify the acquisition of what does not rightfully belong to the predator. The weaker ones are always the losers. La Fontaine tells us that life is not always easy and misfortunes are bound to happen. We should learn to deal with what we can and hope for the best. La Fontaine’s fable the Crow and the fox tells a story of someone taking what does not rightfully belong to them by deceiving the other party. In the fable crow and the fox a crow has found a piece of cheese and retired to a branch to eat it. A fox, wanting the cheese for himself, flatters the crow, calling it beautiful and wondering whether its voice is as sweet to match. When the crow lets out a caw, the cheese falls and is devoured by the fox. La Fontaine picked a fox because foxes are good looking and usually smart. He picked a crow in this fable because crows naturally sound bad. A Crow was also chosen in this fable because crows are somewhat vain and like to show off. If the crow had taken the cheese to a quiet corner to eat, it would not have come in contact with the fox. The crow probably wanted to show off the cheese it got and flew to the top of the tree where it could be seen by people passing by. This fable is interesting because of the choice of animals that were used. The choice of a fox and a crow accurately portrayed the message La Fontaine was trying to send. As was the case with several others of La Fontaine's fables, morality was offended by allowing the fox to go unpunished for its theft. Although the moral of the story is to avoid being proud and to caution against listening to flatterers, the fable also tells us that it is alright to cheat others and take what does not belong to us even if we have to lie and be unjust. Similar to the fox and the crow, In Jean de La Fontaine's The Wolf and the Lamb a wolf comes upon a lamb and, in order to justify taking its life, accuses it of various offences, all of which the lamb proves to be impossible. Losing patience, it says the...
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