What Is the Moral Lesson of "The Three Little Pigs"?

Three Little Pigs

The fairy tale story of the three little pigs has made its way into popular culture. Originally a tale written in England, it became extremely popular in the United States with Walt Disney's adaption of the tale. ​The moral of the story has inspired generations to work hard for success, with the hope that the hard work will eventually lead to favorable outcomes.

Moral Lessons

The primary moral lesson learned from "The Three Little Pigs" is that ​hard work and dedication pay off.​ While the first two pigs quickly built houses of straw and had more free time to play, the third pig labored in the construction of his house of bricks. Compared to the other two pigs, the third pig's extra effort paid off in that his home lasted. The idea that taking the time to perform a task the right way has been adopted by many work organizations and preached by teachers and parents of children for many generations as a good life lesson.


The earliest credited "Three Little Pigs" story was written by James Orchard Halliwell in 1849, part of popular nursery rhymes of England.​ The story appeared in a book titled, "Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales." It is not known whether Halliwell, who later used the name Halliwell-Phillipps, created the story or simply passed it down from previous generations. Halliwell was credited by fellow English author Joseph Jacobs when he adapted the story for a book titled "English Fairy Tales."

Plot Summary

The basic story outline of "The Three Little Pigs" is a tale of 3 little pigs, and each builds a home. The first pig took little time in building the home out of straw and spends the rest of his time playing and relaxing. A second pig builds a home out of sticks, which takes slightly longer, but he too values relaxation time. A third little pig chooses to build a home out of bricks, which requires a great deal of time and effort. He values taking the time to build a home properly over relaxation and recreation. ​When the Big Bad Wolf comes to the homes, only the third pig's house of bricks stands up to the pressure applied by the wolf huffing down the houses.

Walt Disney and the Great Depression

In 1933, Walt Disney released an eight-minute animated film of the "Three Little Pigs." According to the Encyclopedia of Disney Animated Shorts, the short film inspired many Americans through the Great Depression. Americans used the Big Bad Wolf as a symbol of strife in their lives. J​ust as the three little pigs were able to overcome adversity through hard work, many Americans believed that their hard work would eventually lead them out of the Great Depression.

Child-friendly Adaptation

The modern-day version of "The Three Little Pigs" was adapted by Joseph Jacobs, who made changes to appeal to a younger audience. According to Roli Books, in the original story, the "Big Bad Wolf" was boiled in a pot and eaten by the piglets. ​Rather than end the fairy tale in such a gruesome manner, Jacobs adapted the short story, so that the "Big Bad Wolf" came down the chimney and burned his tail.​ In the Disney interpretation, the wolf lands in a pot of boiling turpentine but runs away in pain through the chimney.

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