Fables as Arguments Activity


Fables are short stories that most often include animals as main characters and teach a moral lesson. Most of us remember fables from our childhood: the tortoise and the hare; the lion and the mouse; the wolf in sheep’s clothing. To review examples, click here for a link to Aesop’s fables.

Fables are also arguments: they rely on rhetorical strategies to persuade the audience, and they serve as vehicles for sharing ideologies. Fables can also serve as a foundation for learning more about argumentative writing. In fact, ancient rhetoricians often led their students through fables to practice rhetoric. Practice writing an argument by completing the activity below. 


Step 1: Read some fables to familiarize yourself with the genre.

Step 2: Brainstorm to identify a moral lesson that is important for new members of a group of which you are a part.

Step 3: Write a fable to teach new group members the lesson. Fables are typically short; keep yours to no more than two paragraphs.

Step 4: Include a brief analysis of your fable. “Unpack” the rhetorical choices you made, from characters to the moral lesson in question. What is the main argument your fable conveys and why is it important? Do you think your fable is effective? Why or why not? 

Consider how this activity might relate to an argument essay you are writing for class.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is my purpose for writing?
  • What is my main argument?
  • Who is my audience?
  • Why is my message important for my audience?
  • How do I engage my readers and keep them interested?
  • How can I make my argument most effective?  



This material was developed by the COMPSS team and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. All materials created by the COMPSS team are free to use and can be adopted, remixed, shared at will as long as the materials are attributed.