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Illustrated Guide to Literary Elements

Personification


Personification Definition: when an author gives human-like characteristics to non-human objects or abstract ideas

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Personification

Personification occurs when an author gives human-like qualities to an inanimate object, animal, natural force, or abstract idea. It is a figure of speech, and can be used to simplify or familiarize a complex issue or idea. Personification is most used in regards to an abstract idea with emotions such as love, hatred, and jealousy, and in natural phenomena such as death, birth, and storms. It can also be used for humorous purposes, as in Aesop’s fables, including “The Tortoise and the Hare”. In this story, the tortoise learns that “slow and steady wins the race” against the hare; meanwhile, the hare’s ego causes him to lose the race to the slow-moving reptile. Personification is usually found in poetry and fiction, and it can be extremely useful for explaining complicated topics to children. Personification can also be used to create characteristics that mirror a setting or mood in a story, or create an important symbol, like the description of the rosebush growing outside of the prison door in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Notable Personification Examples in Literature

Hey Diddle, Diddle

By Mother Goose
Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Be sure to check out our article, "Figurative Language"!

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•   (English) Personification   •   (Español) Personificación   •   (Français) Personnification   •   (Deutsch) Personifikation   •   (Italiana) Personificazione   •   (Nederlands) Verpersoonlijking   •   (Português) Personificação   •   (עברית) הַאֲנָשָׁה   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) تجسيد   •   (हिन्दी) अवतार   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Персонификация   •   (Dansk) Personificering   •   (Svenska) Personifikation   •   (Suomi) Henkilöitymä   •   (Norsk) Personifisering   •   (Türkçe) Kişileştirme   •   (Polski) Uosobienie   •   (Româna) Personificare   •   (Ceština) Zosobnění   •   (Slovenský) Zosobnenie   •   (Magyar) Megszemélyesítés   •   (Hrvatski) Personifikacija   •   (български) Олицетворение   •   (Lietuvos) Asmenybe   •   (Slovenščina) Personifikacija   •   (Latvijas) Personifikācija   •   (eesti) Isiksus