One fable in Jean de La Fontaine’s collection that judges power in a style that some could consider disrespectful is the third fable about the frog that wishes to be as big as an ox. To bring about the transformation, the frog puffs until it bursts. La Fontaine likens the frog to powerful figures, including princes and counts. The comparison arguably demonstrates a disrespect of power; it doesn’t treat the leaders as honorable but as people who, like the frog, are preoccupied with swelling their sense of importance.
The disrespectful stance toward power continues in the tenth fable about a man who cannot bear to look into mirrors. This man is so infatuated with himself that he spends his life avoiding mirrors that could cause him to pause, reflect, and realize that he’s not perfect. As with the third fable, the tenth fable takes humans down a notch: it proposes that they are often less powerful and more faulty than they can bring themselves to admit.
A third example of La Fontaine’s judgment of power arrives in fable 18. Here, a schoolmaster opts to lecture a drowning student rather than save him. Once again, La Fontaine presents a person in a position of power as grandiose and self-righteous. Some might call La Fontaine’s judgments disrespectful, while others might call them revealing or true.