Does anyone remember this cartoon from the 90's-early 2000's:
Yes the epic 13 episode PBS children series, Redwall. Following the tale told by Brian Jacques, this is a tale of the orphaned mouse Matthias, trying to fufill his destiny to become a warrior and protect his home, Redwall Abby, from the infamous rat, Kluny the Scourge. Not to be confused with the modern celebrity rat, Cloony the George:
The reason I bring back this trip down memory lane that makes us feel like ancient fossils is because Redwall is a perfect example of animals being used as stereotypes and as symbols for various lessons for children in an aspect that anyone of any age groups can understand. How may you ask? Well I'm going to pretend you asked and gladly answer. We see some of the most basic of story plot tropes ever to exist through Redwall: the battle of good versus evil. Evil is represented by:
Yep Cluny the Scourge, who in a world where rodents are the dominate and smartest species, of course the rat is going to be the bad guy. Let's ignore the fact that they're basically just bigger, stronger, and arguably smarter versions of mice, rats tend to be viewed as evil and disgusting, so let's just go with it alright? And let's not forget our hero:
It is not an unusual thing to see in children stories who have animals as their main focus. Usually animals we associate with evil are evil and good are good. This has been a sort of unofficial rule of thumb. It's a pattern I believe, that is reflective of a basic human desire: even the tiny can be mighty, and nothing is impossible no matter who you are, blah blah blah.
Children are very impressionable little beasts (don't deny it, they can be right evil devils when cranky or bored) and animals have always been the perfect way for parents to help show them what is good and what is bad, whether they want their kids to be clever like the fox, courageous like the tigers (lions are little female dogs in comparison, no bias at all), wise as an owl, animals have and almost definitely will always be, symbols of how humanity sees the rotten yet beautiful world we live in.