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Parable

 

Disciplines > StorytellingStory Devices > Parable

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

A parable is a short story that teaches a moral point.

It describes a setting, explains the action that occurs there, and highlights the results. Typically somebody faces a decision, makes a poor choice and suffers the consequences.

The underlying lesson may be included in the story, for example with a father lecturing a son after an escapade, or it may be left for the storyteller to discuss.

Example

There once was a man who was walking to work and who saw an old beggar on the side of the road. He ignored the man and walked on. At work, the man was fired. On his way home, he sat down by the beggar, who gave him a morsel of bread. The man thanked him and cried.

Discussion

Parables are common in religious texts that were designed to persuade common people to follow the moral codes of the religion in question. This has led to debates as to how literally true the stories actually are.

Many traditional folk stories can be viewed as extended parables as they include teaching elements. Parables tend to be realistic and believable, making them easy for the listener to put themselves in the position of the main subject. 

Parables are different to fables, which use animals and plants in the story (and which often talk). They may also be longer than fables.

The word 'parable' comes from the Greek for a 'fictitious narrative'.

See also

Figures of speech, Fable

 

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