I never really thought of Charlotte's Web by E.B. White as fantasy (and definitely not science fiction), but it's definitely not realistic; now that I am thinking about it, I realize that it has many talking, intelligent animals, and is probably as close to fantasy as it is to any other genre. Also, I have a question I am dying to ask about it, and this site is the only one with a possibility of the question being on-topic.

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    See this question. Basically, if talking animals are par for the course in-universe (e.g. Farthing Wood), it's not fantasy; but if they're uplifted or supernatural, then it is. I'd say Charlotte's Web is just on the boundary, since all the animals can talk to each other, but Fern is the only human who can hear/understand them.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Mar 21, 2016 at 19:02
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    @randal'thor Sigh. So can I ask my question?
    – CHEESE
    Mar 21, 2016 at 19:04
  • id let charlottes web fly... as ontopic.
    – Himarm
    Mar 21, 2016 at 19:08
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    @CHEESE What is your question, specifically? Whether it's about specifically fantasy-ish elements could make a difference.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Mar 21, 2016 at 19:21
  • @randal'thor It is not at all about fantasy; it is about whether the goose spells terrific TEERRRRIIFFIICCCCCC or TEERRRRIIFFIICCCCCCCCCC.
    – CHEESE
    Mar 21, 2016 at 19:23
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    @CHEESE My guess would be off-topic (I'll write up an answer later if nobody else does). You might possibly be able to get away with asking on EL&U, if it's about a certain "idio-idio-idiosyncratic" way of speaking English, but I'm not sure.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Mar 21, 2016 at 19:30
  • @randal'thor I tried them before I tried us, and it apparently will not work.
    – CHEESE
    Mar 21, 2016 at 20:05
  • @rand: Is A Christmas Carol (by Charles Dickens) on topic?  Just because of the ghosts?  That would be silly; except for the brief appearance of Marley’s ghost, they’re just a dream.  …  Are the Muppets on topic?  All the animals talk (except for the chickens; Henson’s version of Pluto); so, based on the discussion here, they aren’t (in general; Why do the Twin Towers still stand in the Kermit-less world? is about alternative history).  … (Cont’d) Mar 22, 2016 at 19:37
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    (Cont’d) …  So why, when I flagged Why didn’t Tiny Tim die? as off-topic, was my flag declined?  The question even says, “The same question applies to the non-Muppet version(s).” (although that remark was added (by the OP) after my flag was raised and declined).  And it isn’t even about a fantastical element of the story; it’s about the relationship between wealth and health.  …  P.S. Does SF&F really need a [muppet-christmas-carol] tag? Mar 22, 2016 at 19:38
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    @PeregrineRook There are always going to be grey areas in what counts as SF/F or not; it's hard to define and can often be argued ad nauseam. Alice in Wonderland is "just a dream", but many would still say it's definitely on-topic. As for why your flag was declined, ask the people who declined it, not me :-) Also, this looks like it could become a long and interesting discussion (and has become less relevant to CHEESE's question) - shall we take it to chat?
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Mar 22, 2016 at 19:44
  • @CHEESE Maybe you ask on Movies & TV? might be able to get an answer based on a film version...
    – Skooba
    Mar 28, 2016 at 17:53
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    I would be a lot more interested in defended this as being on-topic if it wasn't going to result in a ridiculous question about spelling.
    – DCShannon
    Mar 31, 2016 at 23:50
  • @DCShannon I completely agree, because it's a fantastical scenario in a mundane world. I'd still classify that as fantasy (Not all fantasy has magic, and dragons, and the supernatural OH MY!).
    – Anoplexian
    Apr 1, 2016 at 18:00

1 Answer 1



The highest-voted answer to Are anthropomorphic animals by themselves enough to deem a work fantasy? tells us that:

Anthropomorphic/Sentient/Talking animals don't, in and of themselves, make a film/book/TV programme/comic into a fantasy if the central conceit is that talking animals do already exist within that fictional universe.

That said, we would consider talking animals to be part of a fantasy if:

  • They had been uplifted in some way (either by technology or magic)

  • Their speaking was somehow fantastical to the other characters.

Neither of these is the case in Charlotte's Web. All the animals are able to talk to each other as a matter of course, and there's nothing fantastical about this. None of the humans except Fern can understand them, but the in-universe explanation for this is that Fern is younger and more sympathetic and listens to them better. The only animal who shows abilities beyond that of a normal animal is Charlotte, and she's just unusually intelligent rather than being "uplifted" by some technology or magic (or being bitten by a radioactive human).

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    +1 for "being bitten by a radioactive human" :-) Mar 30, 2016 at 19:49

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