Personification Versus Anthropomorphism
The difference between personification and anthropomorphism causes much debate. Both are literary terms and used to add more description, depth and visualization to one’s writing. However, these terms are not interchangeable, as some believe. Each literary term will be discussed in turn based on: 1) definition, 2) examples, and 3) explanation.
Personification is when a person or fictional figure acts as, or is said to be, the physical form of a quality or an abstract idea or concept. In fact, personification is actually related to a metaphor. Examples of personification include Father Time, Mother Earth, saying that Hitler was the Devil incarnate, and “justice” as a blindfolded woman. In each case, the physical embodiment of the term is a human form: father, mother, historical figure, and woman, respectively. However, what they represent is not living; rather, it is an idea or word—time, earth, evil/devilish, and justice, respectively.
The Confusion Continues!
Yes, I know the author titled the video "Personification." But this video clip is really an example of anthropomorphism.
Anthropomorphism is when an inanimate object is given human abilities and characteristics. Examples of anthropomorphism include: Audre Lorde’s poem depicting rooming houses as old women, the animal characters in Alice in Wonderland and William Wordsworth’s poem describing daffodils dancing in the breeze. Boarding houses are literally buildings, but Lorde imagines them as having the characteristics of a specific type of individual. The movie has characters like the rabbit dressed in clothes, running on two legs, and talking. Wordsworth believes a plant is moving in a way that a human would.
Have You Used One of These Literary Devices?
In sum, personification creates a real or imagined physical image of a word or concept. Anthropomorphism attributes human qualities, like emotions, to non-living and/or non-human things—which could include abstract ideas.
About the Author
Stephanie Bradberry is first and foremost an educator and life-long learner. Her present work is as an herbalist, naturopath, and energy healer. She spent over 13 years as a professor of English, Literature, and Education and high school English teacher. Stephanie runs her own home-based business, Naturally Fit & Well, LLC. She loves being a freelance writer and editor on the side.