Personification Adds Personality to Everything!

Personification Adds Personality to Everything!

There are several literary devices sometimes called poetic devices or figurative language that can add colour and vibrancy to your writing.

Generally, they are more useful for fiction writing than for academic writing; however, some of the frequently used literary devices aren’t even recognized as such within academic writing because they have entered into everyday speech and understanding. That is, at least for native English speakers. Figurative language can be a challenge when English isn’t your first language because the expressed ideas are not literal.

Still, use literary devices sparingly and with a great deal of thought when writing academic papers. When writing fiction, however, they can be incredibly useful tools.

Understanding how literary devices are used can be very useful when studying English texts, particularly when you are asked to complete an analysis.

In my opinion, however, the most important reason to familiarize yourself with these amazing tools is to enjoy your own reading to its full extent!

Personification is a figure of speech in which inanimate objects, abstract ideas, or animals are given human characteristics or endowed with life.

Here are some common examples that you have probably heard.

Picture2The camera loves her.

Justice is blind.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

As you can see, these are so well understood that they are practically Standard English. If you take a second glance, however, you will recognize that a camera cannot love or hate. A camera has no emotions. The writer has given it a human characteristic or personified it.

Similarly, Justice cannot see or be blind, but this expression is a more memorable way to understand what we mean by justice.

Time cannot fly. You might say that people can’t fly, at least not without an airplane, but remember that personification includes the concept of giving inanimate objects life as well. Time is not alive.

Why use personification?

Personification can help engage the reader in the story, concept, or idea that you are trying to convey. Used correctly, it can help the reader empathize with the characters – including the non-human “characters” and the connections between them within a story.

Figurative devices add depth and complexity. It helps readers envision ideas clearly and with feelings, making them relatable.

Personification can add a great deal of “colour” to the mood and setting of a story.

We are social and emotional creatures, so connecting at that level means a lot, and literal descriptions simply don’t touch the emotions in the same way.

Famous examples of personification

“Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim.” (Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart)[personification of death]

“Devouring time, blunt thou the lion’s paws

And make the earth devour her own sweet brood” (Shakespeare – Sonnet 19) [personification of time]

Personification vs Anthropomorphism

Be aware that personification is not the same as anthropomorphism although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Personification is more metaphorical but the application of human traits in anthropomorphism is literal.

Picture3Personification is figurative, whereas anthropomorphism is used to allow non-human things to display literal human traits and act as if they are human. Generally, personification is a brief description, whereas anthropomorphism continues.

For example, when you say your car hates you because it will never start in the morning, you are personifying the car – or using personification. If your car is walking, talking, and acting human in a more literal way, you are anthropomorphizing the car.

Famous examples of anthropomorphism are the animals in George Orwell’s novella “Animal Farm” or Simba in “The Lion King” or Pinocchio.

This is just one of many literary devices that add depth and colour to one’s writing and reading. I will be looking at more in the coming months. Stay tuned!

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