Personification is an added formula to our make-believe world.
It not only expands our imagination but also allows us to process and react to nonhuman things differently.
Attributing human traits and characteristics is one of the best ways to empathize with animals, plants, objects, and among other things.
Since we cannot fully understand their thought process and emotions, personification enables us to connect and be in tune with them. It bridges the gap between the animate and inanimate.
Aside from that, it is also a creative way to express your emotion and further illustrate your point.
Whenever writers or artists like you use this type of figurative language, it becomes easier for the audience to understand and interpret complex themes or ideas.
In a way, you are not just writing or using personification for artistic purposes, but you are also helping the readers to better understand unfamiliar concepts or emotions.
Having said that, we listed some personification examples as well as discuss a few things that we deem are relevant to this literary device.
What is the definition of personification?
Personification is a literary device and a figurative language often used in different kinds of literature.
Whether it is used in written or spoken literature, it only has a single application, which is to give human qualities to nonhumans.
To put it simply, its main definition is to describe other animals or objects with human characteristics and traits.
So rather than saying “my alarm loudly rang this morning,” you would instead say “my alarm yelled at me this morning.”
This writing technique is used by writers and storytellers to give life to an inanimate object. At the same time, it allows readers to easily relate to a nonhuman character in a story.
Given that personification is an imaginative and creative way to describe inanimate objects, it is very common in children’s literature.
Personification makes it less difficult for kids to understand abstract concepts and ideas. By using this figurative language, books or any literature would be much more interesting and relatable to kids.
Since personification is an added formula to our make-believe world, it is an effective way to connect and enhance kids’ imagination.
In a sense, personification is not only a literary term used in different kinds of literature, it is also an approach that would help us resonate with a non human entity.
What are the examples of personification?
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth
I like to see it lap the miles,
And lick the valleys up,
And stop to feed itself at tanks;
And then, prodigious, step
Around a pile of mountains,
And, supercilious, peer
In shanties, by the sides of roads;
And then a quarry pare
To fit its sides, and crawl between,
Complaining all the while
In horrid, hooting stanza;
Then chase itself down hill
And neigh like Boanerges;
Then, punctual as a star,
Stop–docile and omnipotent–
At its own stable door.The Railway Train by Emily Dickinson
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”
But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said “Nevermore.”The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe (Stanza IX – X)
“The very winds whispered in soothing accents, and maternal Nature bade me weep no more.”Frankenstein by Mary W. Shelley
“The ancient tower of a church, whose gruff old bell was always peeping slyly down at Scrooge out of a Gothic window in the wall, became invisible, and struck the hours and quarters in the clouds, with tremulous vibrations afterwards as if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there.”A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
“And there’s yet another thing; in the one little particular of scolding – just good, clean, out-and-out scolding – a bluejay can lay over anything, human or divine. Yes, sir, a jay is everything that a man is. A jay can cry, a jay can laugh, a jay can feel shame, a jay can reason and plan and discuss, a jay likes gossip and scandal, a jay has got a sense of humor, a jay knows when he is an ass just as well as you do – maybe better.”What Stumped the Bluejays by Mark Twain
“He is in the tremendous sea. Under foot he has nothing but what flees and crumbles. The billows, torn and lashed by the wind, encompass him hideously; the tossings of the abyss bear him away; all the tongues of water dash over his head; a populace of waves spits upon him; confused openings half devour him; every time that he sinks, he catches glimpses of precipices filled with night; frightful and unknown vegetations seize him, knot about his feet, draw him to them; he is conscious that he is becoming an abyss, that he forms part of the foam; the waves toss him from one to another; he drinks in the bitterness; the cowardly ocean attacks him furiously, to drown him; the enormity plays with his agony. It seems as though all that water were hate.”Le Miserables by Victor Hugo
The waters saw you, God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.Psalm [77:16]
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;Psalm 98:8
Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.Isaiah [24:23]
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”Genesis 4:6
For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.Romans [7:11]
Commonly used phrases or sentence
- Books and video games were his only friend during the summer
- The candle danced in the dark
- The fire swallowed everything in its path.
- Your alarm screamed at me this morning
- The wind whispered in my ear
- Life passed me by
- The storm winds howled and wailed
- Words left my mind and abandon me
- The sea is angry today
- The door jumped in my way
- The sun smiled at me this morning
- I heard the cake in the fridge calling my name last night
- The lava devoured the entire city
- Spicy foods do not agree with me
- That house looks depressed and lonely
- My heart danced as you made your way across the room
- The power died last night
- Last night the wind hugged me
- Stars winked at me
- My foot cried when I stepped on the Lego
- The sun-kissed her cheek
- My keys like to play hide and seek
- The snow almost swallowed the entire city
- The printer always throws a fit every time I need it
- His last chance just walked out the door
- Flood just waltzed through our front door
- The sun glared down at me
- That product advert speaks to me
New York, New York.
I want to wake up
In a city that doesn’t sleep
And find I’m king of the hill,
Top of the heap…New York, New York by Frank Sinatra
Hey there Mr. Blue
We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you
Mr. Blue, you did it right
But soon comes Mr. Night creepin’ over
Now his hand is on your shoulder
Never mind I’ll remember you this
I’ll remember you this wayMr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra
Another turning point
A fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist
Directs you where to goGood Riddance by Green day
Your eyes whispered “have we met?”
Across the room your silhouette starts to make it’s way to meEnchanted by Taylor Swift
But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more stepAmerican Pie by Don McLean
“I hear the Wind Woman running with soft, soft footsteps over the hill. I shall always think of the wind as a personality. She is a shrew when she blows from the north — a lonely seeker when she blows from the east — a laughing girl when she comes from the west — and tonight from the south a little grey fairy.”L.M. Montgomery
“That’s the America I know. That’s the country we love. Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Undaunted by challenge. Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future.”Barrack Obama
“Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world.”Louis Pasteur
“If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should not grow old.”James A. Garfield
What is the difference between personification and anthropomorphism?
Anthropomorphism is often confused with personification because of its fundamental similarities.
However, it is worth noting that although it might seem similar, personification and anthropomorphism are different from one another.
Personification is describing an animal or other inanimate object with human traits or behavior while anthropomorphism is ascribing human characteristics to animals, characters, or objects to make them look more human.
The definition of both literary devices is somehow similar but if you look closely, you would find a subtle difference between the two.
To give you a clear picture or idea, let us look and compare the examples below:
The lonely train whistle cried out in the night
Thomas the Tank Engine, a train that has a human-like feature.
Both use human characteristics and behavior; however, the former describes and paints a picture of the situation of the train as if it is a human while the latter ascribe and put human characteristics to a train in order to make it more human-like.
So if you are planning to write a piece of literature, it is always a great idea to determine which literary device would fit in the situation.
What effect does personification have in an essay?
Personification allows readers to vividly imagine and put themselves in the shoes of the characters.
By using human-like qualities or emotions, your audience would be able to resonate with you (the writer) or the characters in your story.
Personification can even leave a lasting impact on your audience.
For example, to paint the grim nature of extreme weather conditions, you can instead personify storms and hurricanes.
Version 1: The storm was so strong last night. The wind got more destructive as the night deepens.
Version 2 (Personification): The storm hammered our roof and window last night like it was trying to break in. The wind also screamed in fury as the night deepens.
From the example above, you can see the stark difference in language construction.
The second version has more personality and creative flair to it, while the first version is direct and precise.
The personification examples creates a better image for the reader. This, in turn, would help you foster a connection with your audience.
So whenever you want to write an essay, try to use personification in order to paint a clear picture for your audience.
It would not help your reader but it would also help you express your message to your audience more clearly.
Why do you use personification in writing?
The overall purpose of using personification is to connect and relate animate and inanimate objects.
It not only allows the writer to convey their ideas and emotions more creatively, but it also helps the reader better understand the writers’ intention.
This figurative language is used by artists, writers, and storytellers because it is one of the most effective ways to resonate with their audience.
Using human characteristics or traits to describe an inanimate object is a surefire way to get your message across.
Rather than explaining abstract ideas in a boring and direct way, you can project those ideas and integrate them into animals, objects, plants, and so on.
Aside from that, this literary technique can also provide comic relief in a story. It can serve as a comedic contrast between the living and the nonliving.
So employing this technique in children’s literature would be an effective way to connect with them. Kids would find it absurd, and funny when you describe an object or animal like a human.
That being said, personification is not only an artistic way to describe other animate or inanimate objects, it also expands our audiences’ imagination.
We use personification because we want our readers to connect and better understand us.
Hopefully, we managed to impart the importance of personification.
To briefly recap, we answered some of the most commonly asked questions about personification as well as provided a few personification examples
- What is the definition of personification?
- What are the examples of personification?
- What is the difference between personification and anthropomorphism?
- What effect does personification have in an essay?
- Why do you use personification in writing?
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