Are foxes always sly?

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by Glorie
Last updated 5 years ago

Language Arts
Reading Comprehension

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Are foxes always sly?

In English literature as well as in Russian one foxes are often depicted as sly and cunning animals. They are used to portray evilness, corruption and cheating. But sometimes they can also represent intelligence and wisdom. They are revered for their wisdom along with their cunning nature. The fox is often shown as a "bad guy" because of his mysterios nature.

The fox in English literature is a contravercial character. Some stories typify the stereotype that foxes are cunning and deceitful, but others show them successful and to be admired. Perhaps, it depends on the reader's age whom the story is written for. As for fairy tales for kids which have a purpose to teach them to be obedient, the fox is shown as a cunning animal. In books for older readers, such as "Fantastic Mr.Fox" by R.Dahl Mr. Fox can be a brave and clever hero, who is somehow right and good for stealing from people. How can it be? The answer seems to have something to do with our moral intuitions. Our intuitions tell us that Mr. Fox should steal to feed his family and stay alive! One more proof of our point of view is Jackie Kay's story "My Daughter, The Fox" (for teenagers). It gives the reader an unusual view of the mother/child relationship. As the title suggests, the narrator's daughter isn't human, but the feelings generated between mother and daughter are universal.


Idiomatic words and phrases withthe word “fox”

We come across the first mentioning of the fox character in English literature in "The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer. The writer uses a well-known image of Reynard the fox from medieval European folklore in "The Nun's Priest's Tale". Reynard is a trickster: an anthropomorphical character who exhibits a great degree of intellect and secret knowledge, and uses it to play tricks and disobey normal rules and conventional behaviour. In the children's book "Chanticleer and the Fox", Barbara Cooney adapted and illustrated the story of "Chanticleer and the Fox" as told in "The Nun's Priest's Tale" by Chaucer.Many famous children's stories contain foxes as main characters. For example, "The Gingerbread Man" (the story is much alike Russian "Kolobok"), "Chicken Licken"(Foxy Woxy ate naïve Chicken Licken and his friends looking for the reason why the sky was falling in), "The Sly Red Fox and the Little Red Hen" and "Fantastic Mr Fox". Such stories typify the stereotype that foxes are cunning and deceitful, but also successful and to be admired. It’s interesting, but in some English fairy tales the Fox doesn’t appear in her characteristic manner, that denies the traditional idea of the Fox as a cunning, crafty and sneaky animal. For example, in such tales as "The foolish fat fox", "Fox outfoxed" and "Cock and Fox". The very titles of these books do not characterize the Fox on her best, emphasizing her stupidity and gullibility. In particular, in the first tale, which tells about the life of the Fox in the cave with the Lion, she repeatedly appears as "foolish", "stupid", "fat", "arrogant” and "proud". As a result, she imagines himself equal with the Lion, and is killed for arrogance. As for the second tale, the Fox makes a fool of the Goose that also seems surprising, with her extraordinary ability "to lure and to entice" others. In the third tale the Fox is presented as "fox-sly eyes" and as "fox-thief". However, despite all this, the Fox gets into the Cock’s trap because she is "not only sly but also vain". So, in most cases, the Fox performs "intrinsic functions", and, as a rule, successfully. It deceives the Wolf and he loses his tail ("How the Wolf lost his tale", eats naïve Jonny-cake and The Fox appears in a well-known image as "cunning / sly", "demure", "with sharp voice and teeth". She is often described as "bad", "having gruff voice and cruel smile".


to give sb a flap with a fox tail – to make a fool of sb; to play (the) fox – to be crafty; to pretend old fox – a sly, cunning person; as sly as a fox – a cunning and experienced person who gets what he/she wants, often in an underhand way; crazy like a fox – behaving in a foolish, frivolous, or uncomprehending manner as a ruse for concealing clever deeds or deeper intentions

Are Foxes always sly?

AUTHORGeoffrey ChaucerBOOK"The Canterbury Tales","The Nun's Priest's Tale".

AUTHORRoald DahlBOOK"Fantastic Mr.Fox","The Nun's Priest's Tale".

AUTHOR Barbara CooneyBOOK"Chanticleer and the Fox"



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