MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

861 views

What is the difference between personification, anthropomorphism and pathetic fallacy?

These three literary devices are often misidentified and confused with one another. However, there are some easy ways to work out which one you are observing in use in a given text.

Personification refers to the attribution of human characteristics to something non-human, or the representation of an abstract concept or quality in human form. Personified objects are not actually portrayed as posessing the human characteristics attributed to them. "The trees danced in the high winds", is a basic example of personification. The trees "danced", but the 'dancing' refers to the motion of trees as they are moved by the wind, not to trees that are literally dancing.

Anthropomorphism also refers to the attribution of human characteristics to something non-human, however it is distinct from personification in that the anthropomorphised non-humans are actually presented as  behaving as though they are human beings. The pigs in George Orwell's Animal Farm are an example of anthropomorphism, as is the Lion in The Wizard of Oz; they are portrayed as speaking and thinking like humans, and posess human intentions.

Pathetic fallacy refers to the projection of human emotions onto surroundings and nature. Emotions associated with occurences in a narrative, or the mood and tone of characters and speakers, are reflected through inanimate objects or the weather. It is effectively a specific type of personification. This is an excellent example from Robert Browning's Porphyria's Lover:

"The sullen wind was soon awake, 
It tore the elm-tops down for spite, 
and did its worst to vex the lake..."

The "sullen" wind, tearing trees down out of "spite", mirrors the feelings and demeanor of Browning's speaker. 

Imogen S. A Level English Literature tutor, GCSE History tutor, Mento...

9 months ago

Answered by Imogen, an A Level English Literature tutor with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

85 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£24 /hr

Kate M.

Degree: Combined Honours in Social Sciences (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered:English Literature, Philosophy and Ethics+ 2 more

English Literature
Philosophy and Ethics
History
-Personal Statements-

“Hi! I’m Kate and I’m a student at Durham University. My degree is made up of History and Politics modules, as well as some English Literature, Anthropology, and Art History, so I’m well equipped to provide as indepth or broad an insig...”

£20 /hr

Victoria P.

Degree: BA English and French (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered:English Literature, French+ 1 more

English Literature
French
-Personal Statements-

“Hello! My name is Victoria and I am a 21 year old French and English student at the University of Exeter. At the moment I am currently on my year abroad, teaching English at two secondary schools here in Strasbourg, France. I've alway...”

MyTutor guarantee

£22 /hr

Ben C.

Degree: English Literature (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered:English Literature, Spanish+ 4 more

English Literature
Spanish
Philosophy
Maths
English Language

“About me Hello! I am an English student at Durham University. English has always been my favourite subject, and choosing to do it at university was a very easy decision for me. So, if you’re looking for English tuition then I’m your m...”

About the author

Imogen S.

Currently unavailable: for new students

Degree: English (Bachelors) - Cambridge University

Subjects offered:English Literature, History+ 1 more

English Literature
History
-Personal Statements-

“Hi! I'm Imogen, and I'm an English student in my final year at Cambridge University. Whether you love your English Literature A-Level and want to do the best you can, or simply want to make sure you're well-prepared for yourEnglish L...”

You may also like...

Other A Level English Literature questions

Discuss feminism in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

How (on earth) am I supposed to analyse a poem? (GCSE/ A LEVEL)

How do you structure paragraphs in an essay?

How do I begin to analyse an unseen text? (AQA)

View A Level English Literature tutors

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok