The other day I was thinking to myself: "Who put these animal crackers in my soup?!?! This is disgusting, my soup is ruined! I hate people; but I do love animals - let's do a blog post on animals." End quote.
Animals are a common element in fantasy. Animals can be comical, mystical or evil but most animals hold a special significance in a story.
Example: A Pig can represent gluttony, filth, loyalty or intelligence.
If a character loves pigs, has a pig deity it worships or befriends this creature it may represent more than future bacon.
As a reader of fantasy, it is interesting to explore these meanings and gain a deeper understanding of literature.
Also, when considering the significance of an animal in fantasy, we must take into effect the culture where the story takes place. A horse utilized in an America-esk world, would have a different meaning than a horse utilized in a Russia-esk world.
Some animals also have universal meanings.
Here is a short list:
Rabbits - known to represent fertility
Dove - known to represent peace
Coyote - known as a trickster
Butterfly - known for metamorphosis
Fox - known to be cunning
Although the butterfly has a universal meaning it also has a culturally specific meaning of love in China.
Writers will often share the significance of the animals in their work but it's good to explore hidden meanings on your own. As a writer, I chose some animals for my last book and at the time they were practical choices but after doing some research I found that they were significant choices too. Squirrels can denote change and both times they appeared in my novel was a time of change. This deeper meaning will not be shared in the novel, but if my readers look into hidden meanings they will find that these squirrels represent something more than cute, fuzzy creatures and ultimately they may find more of an appreciation for the novel and any novel they explore more fully.