English 390: Fable and Fantasy
Professor Robin Mosher
June 1, 2010
What is the Theme of Mark Twain’s “A Fable?”
Mark Twain’s “A Fable” is about how a man paints a masterpiece that is to be look at in a mirror. When the artist’s cat goes and tells his animal friends in the forest, the animals want to see the masterpiece as well. The cat brings the animals to the house one by one and has them look at the reflection of the painting in the mirror. However, whenever an animal goes to look at the painting, they unintentionally stand between the mirror and the painting, causing them to see only their reflections of themselves.
The theme of the story can be functional to any reader because a reader’s interpretation of the story seen different from the author’s intent. For instance, like the animals in the woods, the reader of the story reads the words of the author’s story and pictures the story the way they want to see them in their own mind, which is a reflection of the reader’s own biases. However, all readers know that inside of every story is a painting of the author’s intent and some readers chose or do not even see the painting. It is believe that art can only be interpreted by how each audience member perceives it.
Furthermore, although creatures or people may not be able to see something, they know that it is there. Take into consideration of how the donkey, from his perspective, does not see his own ears. While nobody can see the air or ocean currents but everyone knows that it does exist just like the donkey’s ears. However, in addition, a long time ago, people were like the animals from the forest who thought things like germs and bacteria did not exist because they had never seen them before. But when a person like the cat told them, the people did not believe in germs and would not believe that person while they believed sicknesses was caused by things like bad smells and angry spirits.
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