Personification: A tool by which non humans mirror humans

Have you ever heard or seen that sun is smiling, wind is whispering or waves are dancing? In the realm of literature, it is possible because of the use of personification. It is an art which allows one to attributes human qualities to non human things, ideas or concept.

We are told by our elders that opportunity knocks at the doors but once in our life. But no one is able to explain, when we ask about the physical presence of opportunity, they remained answerless because its an abstract idea. The term in which we give human qualities to something non-human things or non-livings things is called personification.

Personification; history, definition and examples

The history of using it in writing and other art is very old. It was first used in ancient Athenian by Demetrius Phalerum. In ancient Rome it was popular literary device that can be observed in Roman coins and Architecture.


Personification is a figure of speech that grants human characteristics to non human elements or things. It is a literary device which is used in poetry and other literature to give vividness to writings.

By using it in- animate objects, animals and abstract concepts are personified to give familiarity and connectivity to the emotions and feelings of readers. It is a creative tool which connects the readers more deeply with the subject matter.

It is a type of metaphor than even used in contemporary age. It is a technique in which human traits such as emotions and actions are given to non-human objects.


  1. “The stars danced in the night sky”
  2. “The wind whispered through the streets”
  3. ““The flowers nodded in the breeze”

Personification: A figure of speech (a literary technique)

Writers use this technique to create vivid picture of something, evoke emotion into reader’s mind and presents sensory expression of their idea. The harsh realities of life are presented softly by this technique for example, Emily Dickinson, a great writer has described death in her poem “Because I Could not Stop for Death “as a carrier that carried her into another world.

It is Also used for the description of nature. William Wordsworth, a renowned poet of his age, has presented the beauty of nature by personifying the Daffodil flowers as dancing and singing in the gentle breeze.

Through it one can symbolizes different human attributes to different concepts and ideas and in this way creates a deep connection and emotion, it is not wrong to say that it works as a bridge between human qualities and abstract concepts

Examples of personification

The child’s stare begged me to take him out for ice cream even though I ‘d already said no.

Coming home from the lake empty handed, I figured the fish colluded to avoid me

Personification in poetry and literature

You can use it in your writings, speeches advertising and in visual art. It is also considered a power literary device in visual art; artists use it into their painting and sculpture in order to create vivid picture of an image and give sensory detail.

By giving human attributes to them, they imbue life in them. It is a skill that is used by classical writers in order to emphasize the importance of their work. The great writer Shakespeare had also used it in his plays and poems. The most striking example of using it is ‘Macbeth ‘, a wonderful tragic play of its time.

Balance between reality and imagination by easy examples of it

It is important to be sensitive and sensible in order to become a keen observant of this art. It is crucial that one should create balance between imagination and reality while using it.

It is the responsibility of an artist and a writer to create a clear picture between imagination and reality and the reader feel free to achieve a real aim of using it in any work, for example look at this line “the city that never sleeps”, here the motive is clear. Here the city means a contemporary age and the hustle and bustle of city area.

  • “The book on the shelf called out to be read.”
  • “The clock on the wall ticked away the seconds.”


In the end it is not wrong to say that it is a poetic and literary technique that brings emotion and connection together and creates a bridge between living and non-living things. It has been used for centuries in order to emphasize some idea and concept. It is a gateway between imagination and reality and imbue emotion and life to inanimate things. It has been used in literature as well as beyond the literature.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

It is a poetic technique that means to give human characteristics and behavior to nonliving things.

That bike just wouldn’t quit.

Opportunity knocks at the door but once.

Yes, it is a figurative language that gives color and emotion to writing

Anthropomorphism is a non human characteristics behaving in a human like. On the other hand, it is a human characteristics and behavior.

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