Personification: Examples, Definition and How to Use It?
Personification is a special technique used in the English language and literature to signify or attribute a human characteristic to a lifeless object, an animal or bird or even an abstract idea. A figure of speech or rhetorical technique, personification is widely used in English literature to make a poem, play, screenwriting or short story appear more descriptive, lively, symbolic and vivid. Personification makes a lifeless thing appear human-like. It can also help express a thought or idea to appear like a human being through its selection of appropriate words matching perfectly with the sense.
Why Use Personification?
A poet, screenwriter or fiction writer uses personification to delve deep into the meaning of something. Matching the personification meaning, writers write use words related to it in such a way as to make it more sensory and also describe something in a lively way that is not literarily true. You can use a full moon to depict it with a beautiful woman or cascading water of spring with the lock of hair of a maiden. You use it to give expression to what is there in your mind. Depiction of something becomes very nice if you use words having personification meaning.
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How to Use Personification in a Sentence?
You can use the literary art of using personification in a sentence to describe a scene or something briefly or concisely conveying deeper meaning or connotation. One of the best linguistic ways to use personification is to use it figuratively in a poem, script or play. It also has an illustrative effect on a particular sentence.
Following are the five personification examples that tell you how to use personification in a sentence:
i. The town offered a deserted look as people left it due to the spread of the pandemic. You can also say the town looked desolate as people left it following an attack by the enemy forces. Both desolate and deserted are used figuratively to illustrate the scenario.
ii. The morning rays of the sun silently enter my room as if someone has tiptoed to see what I am doing.
iii. Amidst clouds, the moon played hide and seek. It appeared two little girls are playing in the bushes.
iv. It is a rainy night. The thunder sounded like that of the fire of a cannonball.
v. Joseph could not complete his home task. Seeing his exercise book blank, the teacher thundered what is this?
Personification is getting used in English literature for centuries together. William Shakespeare, Ben Johnson, William Wordsworth and all other writers have been using it to give better expression to their feelings and describe a particular scene in a livelier way.
We can give the following five examples of personification used in literature
the lady luck smiled upon John
the sun smiled in the morn
the topic jumped from one page to the other
as the water of the River Thames moved, the moonlight danced on it
in the dark night, the tall trees appeared like ghosts
Here are two famous examples of it:
Emily Dickinson writes in Because I could not stop for Death:
Because I could not stop death
He kindly stopped for me
The carriage held but just ourselves
Take another example from John Keats (from his poem Bright Star, would I were steadfast as thou art):
Bright star! would I were reliable as thou art—
Not in lone splendor hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite
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Purpose of Personification
Personification is used in English literature as a lively means to describe something in poetic expression, lyrics, screenwriting and short story writing. It is also used in plays.
The five primary purposes of the use of personification are given below:
Add human qualities to something lifeless
Make something sound like a human being
Figuratively say something to suit the poetic purpose
Make a poetic line or any other writing appear lively
Use personification to make something more personal
Examples of Personification
There are some poetic examples of personification that we find in English literature. We are giving below five literary examples of personification:
In his poem Two Sunflowers Move in the Yellow Room, William Blake beautifully personifies sunflowers as if they are talking to him making lifeless sunflowers appear human-like:
“Ah, William, we’re weary of weather,”
said the sunflowers, shining with dew.
“Our traveling habits have tired us.
Can you give us a room with a view?”
Oscar Wilde is very famous in English literature for his art of using personification to vividly describe something and also add a human touch to it. In his poem, Magdalen Walks, he writes:
“And the plane to the pine tree is whispering some tale of love
Till it rustles with laughter and tosses its mantle of green,”
In Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare gives a very good example of personification:
But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the East, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.
Ben Jonson, in the play, Every Man in His Humour, very nicely writes:
It is my want speaks, not myself
Your honesty? dame, it flies too lightly from you
In his poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, poet William Wordsworth writes:
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.
Personification vs. Anthropomorphism
The basic difference between personification and anthropomorphism is that anthropomorphism adds human qualities to nonhuman beings like an animal or birds. Anthropomorphism can also be assigned to the god. Personification attributes a human characteristic to a lifeless object, an animal or bird or even an abstract idea. Thus, the differences are very little. However, it all depends on nuances of the meaning expressed in a special poetic way by a poet or lyricist. This is the reason that people are often confused between the meanings of anthropomorphism and personification.
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By adding human qualities or traits to lifeless things like rays of sun or animals, the poets and writers beautifies expressions. The personification creates a closer relationship between lifeless things or an abstract idea making it appear like a living being.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A personification attributes special meaning to something which can be anything whereas a metaphor draws a parallel meaning between one thing and another which are completely unrelated to each other.
Yes, it is one of the best ways used in the English language to describe a particular scene. Nuances of the meaning are explained in a better way through personification
My favorite dish is calling me, The drum screamed, My laptop is not cooperating with me, Justice is blind, As I walked across the forest, and the trees were watching me.