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What exactly is meant by "a cautionary tale"? Can you list some examples found in both...

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parkerlee | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted November 21, 2008 at 12:48 AM via web

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What exactly is meant by "a cautionary tale"? Can you list some examples found in both science fiction and fantasy literature?

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 21, 2008 at 12:57 AM (Answer #1)

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A cautionary tale is a story that is told to warn against a specific action or practice. To state that more positively, it is told to instill certain desired behaviors in the listeners/readers, or to guide them away from socially disruptive behaviors. A classic example of this might be the story of the scorpion and the frog, in which a scorpion begs a frog for a ride across a river, promising not to sting the frog because it (the scorpion) needs the ride so much. However, midway across, it stings the frog. When asked why, it says something like, "It is my nature."

In science fiction, "Frankenstein" is a classic cautionary tale: don't mess with forbidden knowledge/the origins of life, or your whole family will suffer.

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