Are you confused about personification? Read on to find examples of personification and how this shows up in your writing.
Literary devices are figurative language tools that help writing convey meaning more effectively. Many writers use these well, and personification is one such literary device. Personification gives human traits to something that is not human, and this is an example of personification. Here is an example:
The sunflowers raised their yellow heads and winked their eyes at the morning sun.
Sunflowers do not have eyes and human heads, yet this sentence conveys the imagery the writer meant for it to have. This guide gives great writing tips and takes a closer look at what personification is and how it impacts your writing.
What Is an Example of Personification?
Before looking at examples of personification, you first need to know what it is. Personification is a metaphor that gives human qualities to something that is not human. In other words, the inanimate object or non-human animal is described using human terms.
This particular literary device is often used to make scenes more interesting. Giving non-human entities human characteristics helps the reader relate better to what the writer says. Learning to personify well can make your writing more interesting. You might also find our guide on the best euphemism examples for everyday use helpful.
Everyday Speech Examples of Personification
Personification happens in both everyday speech and literature. Giving human attributes or human abilities to a thing makes it more relatable. Here are some examples:
1. Romance novels became her favorite companions after her breakup.
Novels can’t be companions, so this is a use of personification.
2. The old typewriter called out to the writer, encouraging him to put his ideas to print.
A typewriter cannot call someone, but this example emphasizes that the writer felt drawn to it.
3. The sun crawled away below the horizon, slowly closing its eyes like an old man at the end of the day.
The author could say, “The sun set,” but adding human actions, like crawling and closing one’s eyes, creates a far more descriptive narrative.
4. My phone yells at me when it’s time to bed at night.
Phones cannot yell, but this example shows how loud and abrupt the phone alarm sounds.
5. The tree waved its leaves to say, “Hello.”
Trees are not going to say anything. Also, waving implies using hands.
6. The last piece of cake is calling my name.
Cake cannot call you verbally, but this example shows how much the speaker craves the cake.
7. The cactus stood at attention while the soldiers drove by.
This sentence brings to mind the image of a cactus standing tall and saluting, which it cannot do.
8. The frost spread its icy fingers across the window pane.
Frost does not have human fingers. This example gives the reader an image of how freezing and threatening the cold weather was to the speaker.
9. The moon smiled down on us as we strolled along the river.
A moon cannot smile. However, this example shows how the presence of the moon makes the speaker happy.
10. The forest welcomed the rain after the hot and dry summer.
The forest can’t literally welcome the rain, so it is personified in this way. This amplifies how much rain was needed due to the dry conditions.
11. The door creaked loudly, warning me of the dangers awaiting.
The door is personified in this example, as it gives a warning to the speaker. However, we know this isn’t really possible, but it adds to the tension of the story and highlights the dangers that await.
12. The ocean swallowed the ship whole and digested it over decades, leaving nothing behind.
The ocean is personified in this example, adding depth to the tragedy of the lost ship. By comparing it to a person swallowing and digesting, it amplifies the slow and horrific loss of the ship and the people on board.
13. The long grass danced in the summer air.
This example gives the reader positive emotions related to the summer weather. We know that grass can’t dance, so this personification shows us that it is a happy day filled with summer sunshine.
14. The wind howled as it circled the house.
This sentence has two personification examples, as the wind is howling but also circling the house. The personification of the wind gives it a scary feeling as if the wind is a person, howling and surrounding the house the reader is in.
Examples of Personification in Literature
Personification is a common literary device used in famous works of literature. Here are some examples that high school students often study:
15. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
This famous line shows fortune shooting arrows or throwing stones from a sling. Though these can hurt, they are not something fortune can throw. Thus, the playwright uses personification to show how dangerous fortune can be.
“The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”Hamlet, William Shakespeare
16. “Dancing Pants” by Shel Silverstein
Shel Silverstein is famous for his whimsical poetry written for children. “Dancing Pants” is a classic example of personification. The poem describes pants as they dance, which is a fun way to give a human trait to lifeless pants.
“Doing their fabulous dance.
From the seat to the pleat
They will bounce to the beat,”“Dancing Pants”, Shel Silverstein
17. “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson
In the poem “Because I Could Not Stop for Death, Dickinson personifies the abstract idea of death. Throughout the poem, death is treated as human as she studies the conflict between mortality and immortality.
“Because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me.”“Because I Could Not Stop for Death”, Emily Dickinson
18. “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud” by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth is known for creating lyrical poetry that expresses the beauty of nature. Throughout the poem, Wordsworth compares himself to a lonely cloud. We know that clouds can’t feel lonely, but this personification beautifully captures the feeling of loneliness.
The cloud is alone in the sky, looking at the world below and struck by the beauty of nature. This can be compared to feeling lonely and watching on as you see others live happily.
“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.”“I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud”, William Wordsworth
19. “Mirror” By Sylvia Plath
In this famous poem, Plath personifies a mirror to demonstrate the struggles the speaker is facing. The poem demonstrates excellent personification by giving life to an inanimate object – the mirror. The mirror appears to have thoughts, feelings, and strong emotions of sadness and numbness.
“I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful,
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.”“Mirror”, Sylvia Plath
20. “To Autumn” by John Keats
John Keats uses personification in this poem by paralleling the season of autumn to a living person, debatably a woman. Keats describes autumn as a “close bosom-friend of the matuyuring sun”. This implies that Keats is comparing the season of autumn to a woman, as the bosom is a woman’s chest. The personification of autumn is apparent throughout the poem, as Keats paints the picture of autumn being a maternal figure – growing and ripening fruit for harvest.
“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells”“To Autumn”, John Keats
Personification in Pop Culture
Personification also shows up in pop culture. From advertisements to cartoons, you will find this literary device in many of the items you view on television. Here are some examples:
21. “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast
In the song “Be Our Guest,” plates and silverware dance a show-stopping number while they feed the soon-to-be princess Belle a dazzlingly delightful meal. Throughout this scene, you see personification in the household items that are put on the show.
22. The Geico Gecko
Geico, a car insurance company, has a fun little green mascot, the Geico Gecko. This little guy walks on his hind legs and talks in a unique accent. He is an example of anthropomorphism, an exaggerated form of personification. Anthropomorphism gives an animal or inanimate object full personhood. The creature can walk, talk and think.
23. Inside Out
The movie Inside Out personifies human emotions by giving them actual human faces and motivations. This movie sheds some light on how our emotions control us, and giving them human traits makes them easier to understand.
A Final Word on Examples of Personification
Personification is something people do every day, often without thinking. In literature, however, it can be an intentional action that makes writing more meaningful. Like other literary elements, like alliteration or hyperbole, it transforms writing into something people enjoy reading. If you liked this post, you might also be interested in our guide on using a tone words list to improve your writing.
As you learn to write English, learn to recognize personification. Then weave the tool into your writing to make it feel more expressive, warm, and comfortable.
FAQs About Examples of Personification
What is an example of personification?
Personification is a figurative language that makes something that is not human have human traits. Here is an example of personification:
The clock seemed to stare at him with probing eyes as the time ticked away.
Is heart an example of personification?
If you say that an animal or object has a heart but not necessarily the actual organ, you could be using personification. Here is how that might look: The dog’s heart broke when he was dropped off at the pound.
This use of heart is the emotion the dog feels; some would argue that they do not have this kind of heart like a human does.
What is personification used for?
Personification is used to give human qualities and emotions to inanimate objects, allowing the reader to relate to the message of the writing. Personification leaves the reader with a more profound understanding of the concepts and leaves a memorable impression.
Why do writers use personification?
Writers use personification to evoke the reader’s emotion and create vivid imagery. By comparing objects to people, the writer can build a relationship with the reader, heightening the emotional impact of their writing.
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