In his numerous tales of Pinocchio, the adventurous marionette who comes alive, Carlo Collodi often addresses the social problems that he observed in nineteenth-century Italy. He draws on fairy-tale conventions, including the traits most often associated with specific animals, in developing these points. Pinocchio’s creator, Gepetto, is a human man, and Pinocchio longs to become a genuine human boy. However, most of the characters that the puppet encounters on his many adventures are animals. As such, animals represent a wide range of human types. Collodi routinely uses qualities that animals exhibited in the fairy tales of the time to demonstrate his critical points about Italy’s political situation, such as frequent miscarriages of justice.
One episode that connects fairy tales and political issues is Pinocchio’s trial and conviction following an episode of theft. During his stay in Foolville, he is tricked and robbed by two wily animals, the Fox and the Cat. Collodi here applies the stereotypical associations from fairy tales, where foxes are almost always sly and cats are thieves. The satirical aspect involves Collodi’s inversion of the concept of justice in the courtroom when Pinocchio decides to press charges. The judge and his enforcers are all animals. The judge is a gorilla, indicating that he is powerful but also associating him with brute strength rather than intelligence. The policemen are mastiffs—huge, powerful dogs. After Pinocchio makes his complaint, rather than pursue the criminals, the judge orders the dogs to arrest him. Although he is the victim, because he has no money, he is taken to jail.
A secondary source that investigates this aspect of political satire is M. L. Rosenthal’s 1989 essay "The Hidden Pinocchio: Tale of a Subversive Puppet," in Literature and Revolution, edited by David Bevan. This essay and others are available in the eNotes Study Guide for Carlo Collodi, Critical Essays.