Personification is a literary device that assigns human characteristics, emotions, or behavior to non-human entities, such as animals, objects, or natural phenomena. By giving inanimate objects human-like qualities, authors can create a deeper connection between the reader and the subject matter, and convey complex ideas in a more relatable and engaging way.
Personification Examples in Shakespeare’s works
One of the most famous examples of personification in English literature is in William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet.” In the famous soliloquy, Hamlet personifies death as a “bare, forked animal” that “puzzles the will” and “makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of.” By personifying death in this way. Shakespeare is able to convey the fear and uncertainty that Hamlet feels about the unknown afterlife.
Personification in Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”
Another example of personification is the poem by Robert Frost “The Road Not Taken”. In this poem, the speaker personifies the road as having a personality and making a conscious decision, “And that has made all the difference.” This personification helps the reader to relate the idea of choices, and the consequences of those choices, in a more relatable and thought-provoking way.
Examples in children’s fairytales
Personification is in many children’s books and fairy tales. For example, in the story “The Tortoise and the Hare,” the tortoise and the hare are given human characteristics. Such as the ability to talk and make decisions, to make the story more relatable and engaging to young readers.
Personification examples in George Orwell’s Animal Farm
In George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” the animals on the farm bear-human characteristics. Their behavior is an allegory for the rise of Stalinism in Russia. The animals are able to think, speak, and plan, this way. Orwell personifies the animals. And it allows the reader to understand the political message of the novel in a more relatable way.
Examples in Contemporary Literature
Personification is a common literary device used in contemporary literature, and many writers have used it in their works. Here are some examples:
- Neil Gaiman: In his novel “American Gods,” Gaiman uses personification to bring the gods to life. The character of Mr. Wednesday is a personification of the god Odin, and Shadow’s dreams are personified as living creatures.
- Margaret Atwood: In “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Atwood uses personification to create a sense of dread and foreboding. The oppressive society of Gilead is personified as a dark, ominous presence that hangs over the main character, Offred.
- Toni Morrison: In “Beloved,” Morrison uses personification to give voice to the ghost that haunts the main character, Sethe. The ghost is personified as a vengeful spirit that seeks justice for the injustices committed against her in life.
- Salman Rushdie: In “Midnight’s Children,” Rushdie uses personification to give life to the country of India, which is personified as a character with a distinct personality and voice.
- Haruki Murakami: In “Kafka on the Shore,” Murakami uses personification to give a surreal and dreamlike quality to his story. Moreover, the talking cats and other strange creatures that populate the novel are all personified in a way that blurs the line between reality and fantasy.
In conclusion, personification is a powerful literary device that creates a deeper connection between the reader and the subject matter. And conveys complex ideas in a more relatable and engaging way. Whether it is through Shakespeare’s soliloquies, Frost’s nature imagery, or Orwell’s political allegory. It has been a staple of English literature for centuries.