Jean de la Fontaine (8 July 1621 13 April 1695) was a French poet and fabulist, best known for his adaptation into French of many fables (from Aesop and others), many of which have become required reading in the French school system.
His best-known works are his Fables and Contes et Nouvelles, a series of more risqué poems and stories in verse.
Tropes present in La Fontaine's works:
- Always Someone Better: "The Mouse Metamorphosed Into A Girl" concerns a brahmin seeking the most powerful husband for his daughter (formerly a mouse turned into a human). He starts by asking the sun, who explains that clouds can obscure him, the cloud is pushed away by the wind, the wind is blocked by the mountain, and the mountain can be tunneled through by a rat. Guess which one the girl chooses.
- An Aesop: Obviously. Sometimes the aesop is delivered by one of the characters, such as the fox in "The Fox and The Raven" (after the fox tricks the raven into dropping a stolen cheese):'The flatterer, my good sir,
Does live upon his listener;
Which lesson, if you please,
Is doubtless worth the cheese.'
A bit too late, Sir Raven swore
The rogue should never cheat him more.
- Cat Girl: A very early and unbuilt version: the titular cat turned into a woman bears no sign of her former self, except that she can't stop herself from chasing mice.
- Cunning Like a Fox: The fox is The Trickster in the Fables, sometimes as the hero and sometimes as the villain.
- Didn't Think This Through: The aesop of "The Fox and the Goat", where a fox and a goat go down a well to drink but find themselves trapped. The fox tells the goat to stand against the wall so the fox can climb up, then leaves the goat trapped in the well.
- Love Makes You Dumb: A lion who falls in love with a human is willing to have his teeth and claws filed down by her father so he doesn't risk hurting her... and of course, has the hounds set on him as soon as he's entirely defenseless.
- Moment Killer: In "The Peasant Who Lost His Calf", a peasant looking for a runaway climbs a tree to get a better view. He sees a young couple getting frisky below, the man exclaiming aloud at the wonderful things he sees under his lover's dress... and then the peasant calls to him to ask if his calf is among those things.
- Original Position Fallacy: A young man teaches a young woman about these what a woman feels when she's in love with a man... only to be crushed when she blithely tells him the feelings he describes are what she feels for his rival.
- Prophecy Twist: A young man fated to be killed by a lion grows up into a strong and impulsive youth... but due to the prophecy, is never allowed to go hunting despite it being his dearest wish. Well aware of this, he comes upon a lion on a tapestry and punches it, hurts himself on a nail hidden by the tapestry, and dies when the wound gets infected.
- Security Cling: In "The Husband, the Wife and the Robber", a wife never shows her husband any affection. But when a robber breaks into their bedroom at night, she leaps into her husband's arms in terror. The overjoyed husband tells the thief to take everything he wants for bringing him such happiness, the robber is all too happy to comply (the wife's reaction is not given).