For the Fox Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Aesop’s “The Fox and the Woodcutter” illustrates the tale of the fox running away from a group of hunters and asking the woodcutter to help him hide, to which the woodcutter offers the fox his hut. The fable is said to “apply to men who make protestations of virtue but who actually behave like rascals”. However a better view of this fable’s moral is “actions speak louder than words”. What is interesting about this take on the moral is that the humans in this fable completely ignore one another’s actions and follow only what one says. When the hunters come and ask the woodcutter if he has seen the fox, he says he has not but makes gestures indicating the fox’s hiding place, to which the hunters take no notice and move on. The fox on the other hand sees what the woodcutter does and therefore does not show any gratitude. When the woodcutter becomes indignant the fox tells him how his words and actions do not agree. Not only does the fable show that words are meaningless without the deed, but it also illustrates how people should be more observant and trust their own eyes more than the rubbish that comes from others’ mouths. The fox is the character we can learn from, for unlike the humans he followed the actions, not the words, of the woodcutter which leads to his survival. One could say the fox’s survival also came from the obliviousness of the hunters, who lost what they were searching for. Thus we use an animal, the fox, to show us humans how we need to change our mindset along with following through with what we say.

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3 thoughts on “For the Fox Actions Speak Louder Than Words

  1. Upon reading this fable I, too, thought a better suited moral was “actions speak louder than words.” However, you present an interesting observation that the fox noticed the actions of the woodcutter and the humans did not. Perhaps you could explore this idea even more. What is it about the hunters (or humans in general) that prevents them from paying attention to actions instead of words?

  2. Pingback: The trickster figure of the Fox «

  3. good post! Your analysis also reveals that animals have mastered body/sign language and humans have mastered speech, to the disadvantage of the latter. How do you explain this division between signs and speech, and how is this fable possibly undermining anthropocentric claims about the natural superiority of speaking humans? You need to pursue the larger implications of your argument.

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