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Random thoughts

I'm wholly confused by the way designation of good or evil is assigned to talking animal species in children's books and other media.

Mice: Good

Rats: Evil

Wolves: Usually Evil, but wherever they're portrayed as Good they're Lawful Good, a Noble Savage kind of thing.

Foxes: Chaotic Neutral

Cats: Usually evil or at least completely self-serving

Lions: Good

Bears: Good

Dogs: Good, except Dobermans, which are Evil

Frogs: Good

Snakes: Evil

Turtles: Good

(as reptiles go lizards are for the most part weirdly absent)

Insects: Almost all considered Good, which is weird considering that most people hate or at least are slightly uncomfortable with bugs. Worms and snails are also Good.

I guess herbivores are generally good and carnivores evil, which is kind of a simplistic way to see the natural world, but I don't understand why bears are almost universally portrayed as good, as are lions, when both have killed people and do eat meat. Maybe this has more to do with which animals are predators of typical animal protagonists. Idk.

I'm also confused about why certain animals are anthropomorphized more commonly than others. Why mice? Why so many anthropomorphized mice? And rabbits? Why rabbits?

They're also anthropomorphized to different degrees based on species. A rabbit or frog will wear clothes and walk on two legs like a human. A wolf, sheep, robin or horse won't walk on two legs. Maybe that's harder to rationalize.

Why am i thinking about this?
 

Ban

Troglodytic Trouvère
Article Team
I'm wholly confused by the way designation of good or evil is assigned to talking animal species in children's books and other media.

Mice: Good

Rats: Evil

Wolves: Usually Evil, but wherever they're portrayed as Good they're Lawful Good, a Noble Savage kind of thing.

Foxes: Chaotic Neutral

Cats: Usually evil or at least completely self-serving

Lions: Good

Bears: Good

Dogs: Good, except Dobermans, which are Evil

Frogs: Good

Snakes: Evil

Turtles: Good

(as reptiles go lizards are for the most part weirdly absent)

Insects: Almost all considered Good, which is weird considering that most people hate or at least are slightly uncomfortable with bugs. Worms and snails are also Good.

I guess herbivores are generally good and carnivores evil, which is kind of a simplistic way to see the natural world, but I don't understand why bears are almost universally portrayed as good, as are lions, when both have killed people and do eat meat. Maybe this has more to do with which animals are predators of typical animal protagonists. Idk.

I'm also confused about why certain animals are anthropomorphized more commonly than others. Why mice? Why so many anthropomorphized mice? And rabbits? Why rabbits?

They're also anthropomorphized to different degrees based on species. A rabbit or frog will wear clothes and walk on two legs like a human. A wolf, sheep, robin or horse won't walk on two legs. Maybe that's harder to rationalize.

Why am i thinking about this?

Modern antropomorphized animals in western fiction originate from the medieval and ancient fables of western- and central-europe for as far as I can tell. Stories like 'Reynard the Fox'. My personal theory is that these ancient and later medieval people assigned traits of good and bad to animals and that these judgements simply stuck around. If you think about it all the animals you mentioned that were considered bad have a good reason for being considered such by people back then. Rats can be found everywhere from the wilds to the cities, they are very aggressive and they carry a plethora of diseases which back then included the black death itself. Wolves in Europe were also very dangerous back then. They were numerous, intelligent, strong, lived in areas frequented by humans and were aggressive enough to attack people. It is only in the past couple of centuries that Europeans have killed off the more hostile wolves (and a whole bunch of other wolves). Snakes can be deadly and can bite, but they are probably portrayed as evil due to christian mythology. Cats have long been associated with witchcraft and are notoriously independent 'domnesticated' animals. Neither of those things would sit well with the medieval judeo-christian mindset of western- and central-europe.
Dobermans did not live in medieval Europe so that's a modern invention.

Other animals simply don't have any strong religious association with 'evil' and were not as prone to hostile behaviour towards humans.
 
I've always found the glorification of the mouse fascinating, it's a pest, but it is cute. The rat is less cute, and considered far dirtier than a mouse. I large part of this is what do people tend to find cute. Rabbits are cute, with them fuzzy wuzzy tails.

Even beyond religion, snakes are just flat creepy and scare people because they surprise folks hidden in the grass.

I would not doubt that doberman's gained their "evil" from two points, Nazis and communist europe after WW2. A guard dog/attack dog breed, they had a reputation as fighters, and once Animal Farm used this, well, it stuck. The basic doberman appaerance doesn't help. They have a rigid war dog stance and look, IMO.

If cats are evil, not just aloof (because why wouldn't a cat be portrayed as aloof?) it's because a stupid dog person is writing the story. heh heh.
 

Insolent Lad

Maester
Let's not forget that snakes can be a blatant sexual symbol. We all know what 'knowledge' Adam and Eve got there in that garden. Is that 'good' or 'bad?' Depends on the culture and the individual, I guess.
 

Steerpike

Felis amatus
Moderator
I'm wholly confused by the way designation of good or evil is assigned to talking animal species in children's books and other media.

Mice: Good

Rats: Evil

Wolves: Usually Evil, but wherever they're portrayed as Good they're Lawful Good, a Noble Savage kind of thing.

Foxes: Chaotic Neutral

Cats: Usually evil or at least completely self-serving

Lions: Good

Bears: Good

Dogs: Good, except Dobermans, which are Evil

Frogs: Good

Snakes: Evil

Turtles: Good

(as reptiles go lizards are for the most part weirdly absent)

Insects: Almost all considered Good, which is weird considering that most people hate or at least are slightly uncomfortable with bugs. Worms and snails are also Good.

I guess herbivores are generally good and carnivores evil, which is kind of a simplistic way to see the natural world, but I don't understand why bears are almost universally portrayed as good, as are lions, when both have killed people and do eat meat. Maybe this has more to do with which animals are predators of typical animal protagonists. Idk.

I'm also confused about why certain animals are anthropomorphized more commonly than others. Why mice? Why so many anthropomorphized mice? And rabbits? Why rabbits?

They're also anthropomorphized to different degrees based on species. A rabbit or frog will wear clothes and walk on two legs like a human. A wolf, sheep, robin or horse won't walk on two legs. Maybe that's harder to rationalize.

Why am i thinking about this?

An anthropologist name Mary Douglas had some theories about this when it comes to clean v. unclean animals in human culture and religion. She hypothesized that unclean (or in some cases, evil) animals are those that seemed out of place in terms of categorization. For example, cloven hoofed ruminants may be fine in a culture (cows, sheep, etc.), but a non-ruminant that shares the cloven hoof (like a pig) is outside the boundaries of the category (and it occurs to me that the same would be true of cloven-hoofed human forms, which are often associated with evil). Likewise, the serpent has scales like a fish and no legs, yet it goes on land.

Douglas was looking at judeo-christian cultural history. I don't know how far she ventured outside of that. But she claimed that the early dietary and sacrificial taboos around the animals of the Israelites fit nicely into this theory of animals within defined categories being acceptable, and those outside of categories (or aberrations in terms of their category) holds up pretty well.

Of course, that doesn't get to all the creatures on your list, or all cultures, but it's an interesting idea for why some animals may be viewed as they are.
 
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Reactions: Ban
Huh, didn't expect so many people to chime in on my animal thing.

The thing is, these ancient opinions on animals can go so far as to affect support for conservation of different animals. There was a lady commenting on a Nat Geo article about federal protections for wolves saying that wolves should be exterminated because if they were "allowed" to live where people live all kinds of people would be turning up eaten left and right...

...I mean, I'm sure wolves aren't completely harmless, but i don't think we're a major component of their diets either...
 

Aurora

Sage
Apparently cats don't have alembic systems. I still love their murderous little ways.

@Dragon of the Aerie: have you seen The Secret Life Of Pets? We watched it recently and it has a lot of the stereoypes you speak of. It was funny too.
 
^^I actually love doing family trees, and have for years. I'm not sure why.

I'm kind of stuck. There's a certain plot twist that I don't know how to write, exactly, but the main thing is that I'm feeling a bit frustrated that I can't seem to tell the story that I've been wanting to write for years--exactly how it looks in my head.
 

Svrtnsse

Staff
Article Team
A friend of mine, who's a bus driver, just posted a short anecdote about how he gave a kid a small toy car he'd found in the bus several years ago. The kid had been unruly and not wanting to sit still, so he got the car as a bribe. Then my friend had a cup of chocolate.

It's not a particularly action packed or exciting story, but I still enjoyed reading it. It kinda goes to show how even small and seemingly dull events can be interesting - especially when you know the characters.
 
He carried around a toy car for several years?

Sounds like a challenge brewing. Write a scene about a bus driver who bribes an unruly kid with an old toy car he'd found on the bus years ago.

[Edit: I might up the ante for the challenge and say that one or the other of the two, bus driver or kid, is not human, heh.]
 
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Aurora

Sage
Anxiety has been grinding me down so much lately, I have little energy for anything. :(
I have anxiety too. It's so bad right now I'm averaging 4-5 hours of sleep per night for the past month and sometimes less. It's hell. Just know someone else here understands what you're going through. Mine stems from deep rooted trauma and it sucks.
 

Steerpike

Felis amatus
Moderator
I have anxiety too. It's so bad right now I'm averaging 4-5 hours of sleep per night for the past month and sometimes less. It's hell. Just know someone else here understands what you're going through. Mine stems from deep rooted trauma and it sucks.

Do you ever take anything to help you sleep? I have always had a sort of general level of anxiety, but it got bad at one point when my daughter was ill. I got very little sleep because I woke up with panic attacks. I was prescribed xanax on an as-needed basis, which at first was every night, but eventually became maybe once every three or four months. I don't know that it is suitable for daily use, but on an as-needed basis it ensured a solid night's sleep, and that was on a pretty low dose (the doc prescribed 0.5 mg, and I decided to break each tablet in half and so was only taking 0.25 mg at a time).
 

Aurora

Sage
^I don't like taking sleep aids. It hasn't worked well for me in the past and I've tried a few different medications. When things are under control I get more sleep.
 
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