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Personification

*also called anthropomorphism

What is personification?

Personification is the giving of human qualities to non-human things.

Uses of personification

Personification has often been used in children’s stories (such as Aesop’s Fables) and when describing natural elements (sun, wind, rain etc.) or Gods.

It is also used in a lot of children’s cartoons, in which animals are given human qualities.

However, it can also be used as a descriptive tool in writing.

Examples

1. Making non-human objects act as humans

The duckling looked at the swan.
‘I wish I was as beautiful as you.’
The swan, however, swam away, not interested in what the duck had to say.
What did the sheep say to the sad horse?
“Why the long face?”
The dog looked in the lake and saw another dog, this one holding a bigger steak than he had.
‘I must get that steak” the dog said to himself.
I looked at the clock, and the clock looked back at me.
“You are late” it said. “She is already waiting.”
“I know, I know” I said, hurrying my shoes on.

2. Giving human characteristics to elements

As the man walked along the road, the sun looked down on him and smiled.Maurice stared at the painting on the wall. It was proud and confident, like himself, a chief amongst his other pictures.
Anna threw her coat onto the nearest chair, where it sat lazily by the fire, happy to be out of the rain.

Exercises

Try to create personification (anthropomorphism) to describe these scenes and objects:
1) a cat talking to a fish
2) a rain cloud thinking
3) a bed
4) a plant growing in the sunshine

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