Literary Devices


What is it?

Personification is a figure of speech that gives human qualities to objects, animals, or ideas.

Why is it important?

Personification connects readers with the object that is personified. Personification can make descriptions of non-human entities more vivid, or can help readers understand, sympathize with, or react emotionally to non-human characters.

How do I do it?

Give human-like qualities or emotions to inanimate entities or non-human beings.

Example 1:

"And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon."

—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Paul Revere's Ride"

Note: Longfellow gives the windows the human qualities of sight and thought in order to convey the ominous mood of the moment.

Example 2:

"When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath,"

—Emily Dickinson, "There's a certain slant of light"

Note: Dickinson gives the landscape and shadows human qualities (listening and holding their breath), in order to bring to life the effects of the sunlight on her surroundings.

More about personification