What causes anthropomorphism

Personification: definition, effect & 15 examples of the stylistic device

Personification is one of the most commonly used stylistic devices in literature. Humanization is used primarily in epic and lyric poetry. We'll tell you what a personification is and what effect it has. We also have 15 examples for you.

You can recognize a personification by attributes that are actually only used for people. This includes, for example, the “laughing” of the sun or the rain “running down” the gutter. Through the human characteristics can do things breathed more life into it be or animals given a vote become.

In the following you will learn how to recognize a personification and which functions it still fulfills. This is how you will surely succeed in your next text analysis.

Definition: what a personification is

Personifications often appear in fables and fairy tales

The general name for a personification (also personification or fictio personae) reads "Anthropomorphism". They exist in three areas: rhetoric, visual arts and religion.

In rhetoric it describes a Stylistic devicesthat gives animals, plants, things or the dead human traits or a voice. There she kicks as a verb, adjective or noun which is actually only used in connection with people.

In the fine arts the personification denotes the humanization of an abstract object, for example in ancient times the sky, the moon and the earth were represented as a person. The representation of forces of nature in religion and the personified worship of gods are similar.

Personification is different from “personalization”. This means the attribution of historical events to the influence of an important personality. Here you will find a brief summary of all important rhetorical means.

Effect and function of a personification

Personifications occur primarily in epic and lyric poetry. Its main function is Humanization of things or animals. This function was used very often in fables or fairy tales, in which animals and mythical creatures were given human characteristics. You get a voice and language there, wear clothes or walk upright. They even often have humor and are intelligent.

Personification is particularly helpful in poems because it a few words can make a big difference can achieve. She increases that Identification of the reader with things, plants or animals. In this way it is easier to emulate what the poet wants to say. Below are other effects of anthropomorphism.

As a metaphor

Heart symbols were personified here to express "dancing for joy"

The personification can also appear as a metaphor. A metaphor is one To use the term in a figurative sense. She uses few words to convey a lot of information. In doing so, she usually removes these words from their original meaning and visualized you. Examples of metaphorical personifications are:

  • "My heart dances with joy. "
  • "My fear laced my throat to.”

The first example shows the image of a heart dancing excitedly, beating rhythmically and quickly for joy. It is symbolic of love and is personified to displace its anatomical structure.

The second example shows one constricted throat, the metaphorical for need and distress stands. At the same time, human behavior is added to the feeling of fear. The fear acts and tightens the speaker's throat. It is she who pressures him and makes him breathless.

As an allegory

An allegory is one executed metaphorwhich can also appear in the form of a personification. Allegories are comparative and replace something abstract with something tangible. This should make the metaphorical meaning even more accessible to the reader or listener. Examples of allegorical personifications are:

  • “I felt like the moon: Peaceful smiling and the people observing.”
  • “The game of life pullsThe stringsthrough which we move. "
  • "Lady Justice"

In the first example the speaker positions himself above man by comparing himself with the moon. He also humanizes him by smiling and watching. He identified himself with him and thereby shifts himself into a passive, representational role. More about the Reification as the opposite of personification can be found at the end of this article.

The second example personifies life by comparing it to a game. Allegorically, a picture is drawn that the reader can imagine. Life as an acting being pulls the strings and moves people. Justitia too in the third example is portrayed allegorically as justice personified in the form of a blindfolded woman with scales in her hand.

As an exaggeration

Here would be "The storm is raging outside tremendously." an ironic exaggeration

A personification can also be used as a hyperbolefunction. The hyperbola describes the rhetorical exaggeration in literature. An anthropomorphism can show this exaggeration particularly well in some cases and the Make the author's intention clear. In the following you will find two examples that we will explain for you afterwards.

  • “Unfortunately you cannot come over. The storm outside rages enormous."
  • “A sea of ​​fire chases / Through a street. "
    (from the poem “God of the City” by Georg Heyms)

The first example shows through the personification “raging” how much the storm is out of control. There arises a comparative picture with a raging childthat doesn't notice when it breaks something while romping around. Likewise, romping can be a ironic exaggeration depending on how strong the storm actually blows.

The second example metaphorically symbolizes the mass of fire and contrasts it with a concept of water that contrasts with fire in a paradoxical way. also "Hunts" the fire, which it personifies and connects with an animal on the hunt. It hunts people like a predator.

As a strange means

A personification can also have the effect of some comical agent. For example, that alone is Imagination of an animal or thing that acts humanly, funny. For example, in a fairy tale by the Bratwurst Bratwurst (KHM 23), a mouse, a bird and a sausage brought together a household. Further examples are:

  • "The Fox danced Tango as if there was no tomorrow. "
  • Uncle Sam ”

In the first example, the fox is personified by dancing a typical dance of human culture. The idea of ​​this scene should be funny to the reader.

The second example is one Caricature of the USA. Uncle Sam embodies all of the stereotypical characteristics of the United States in one person. He was one well-known advertising character, was used by the military in 1917 with the slogan “I Want You for US Army” and was officially recognized as a symbol in the USA in 1961. Uncle Sam is used worldwide, but is often used critically in other countries.

The personification: 15 examples

Here animals are depicted anthropomorphically

In this chapter you will find various examples of personifications. They help you to find a Feel for the stylistic device and make it easier for you to interpret literary works.

You can do that especially in the school and the university benefit. For analyzes of prose or poetry, personifications are often used as an argument to substantiate statements. But also in the Advertising language they occur frequently and even in everyday life some have become fixed Phraseestablished.

1. “Now laughs the luck to us, soon thunder the complaints."

This verse from the sonnet “Es ist alles vain” by the baroque poet Andreas Gryphius uses the personification metaphorically. Happiness shines laughing at people; they are happy themselves, happiness.

The complaints, on the other hand, thunder loudly, attract attention and are difficult to ignore. The result is an image that the complaints, like thundering from above, come from the clouds and affect people, even scare them.

2. “Heaven cries.”

“Heaven is crying” has established itself as a phrase that describes rain. Through the personification of crying, it illustrates the sad mood that can prevail on rainy days.

3. “The rays of the sun tickled him awake. "

Here the inanimate sunbeam is connected with a human action and sensation. It seems as if the sunbeam is tickling the person, the feeling of being tickled is actually described so that the reader gets a better idea of ​​the situation. In this way, he should be able to identify himself better with the text.

4. “Germania”

A statue of Germania in the Niederwald (Ruedesheim am Rhein)

The Germania is a German national allegory that became known as a national symbol in the 19th century during the Romantic era. She stands as Symbol for the democratic movement this time and embodies the German national spirit in the form of a woman. Mostly she is depicted as a fighter and with an oak, acorns or oak leaves.

5. “He dared one shy Attempt."

The experiment in this case is anthropomorphic. In and of itself, trying cannot be shy. It is only through the person performing it that it acquires its human character.

6. “The leaves to dance in the wind."

This anthropomorphism describes the movement of the leaves in the wind, dancing in an aesthetic way.

7. “The time runs me of it. "

Here again an abstract concept is personified. Time as a designation for an all-embracing force is reduced to a human action: the running. This action illustrates the human feeling that time goes by so quickly that it literally runs away from humans. The preposition “of it” puts people in a chasing or chasing position. He's too slow to catch up with the time.

8. “The good defeated the evil"

Here two abstract terms are contrasted that summarize the totality of good and evil. The term “win” is a typically human term used in competition. The good and the bad were personified to evoke the image of a struggle in the reader or listener.

9. “Before blind Anger he smashed the beautiful old mirror. "

The "blind rage" is also a personification

A similar phenomenon applies here as in the “shy attempt” from the fifth example. Anger itself is not blind. It is an inoperative abstract term used to describe a human feeling.

This feeling can cause blindnessby angry people forget everything around them and only see their anger. For this reason, in the example sentence, the person smashed the beautiful old mirror. His anger did not let him see that he would regret this act afterwards. His foresight is like blind.

10. “Scythesman

The term “Grim Reaper” allegorically stands for death. The figure personifies death and has been depicted as a human skeleton clad in a shroud since the late Middle Ages. He carries a scythe with him, with which he cuts his grass, the thread of human life, like a farm laborer.

11. “mother Nature"

Mother Nature is a very well known name for the personified nature. The representation or description of nature as woman and mother is chosen here to symbolize the fertility, originality and wholeness of nature.

12. “Nature and art, they seem to flee

This verse from Goethe's sonnet “Nature and Art” from the Weimar Classical era also shows a personification. A human, pictorial movement is evoked in which nature and art flee from each other facing each other.

Here it becomes particularly clear that personifications often have something to do with movement and direction indicators, as they can represent these particularly well with the help of corresponding verbs.

13. “You see the yellow dress over there stand? I graduated from high school with that. "

"The yellow dress" stands for a certain woman

In this case, the yellow dress represents a person standing nearby. It is personified. However, it is also aPars per toto; a rhetorical device in which one (the dress) stands for something else (a woman).

In literature, stylistic devices often interlock and become blurred. It is therefore important to know the most frequently used ones in order to be able to argue well in an interpretation.

14. “She ran through the forest, her dress torn. At home she put it by the fireplace. It was there whining in the dirt."

In this example, the personification through the verb “whine” is meant to arouse pity for an object. The recklessness of people towards their clothing is criticized.

15. “The locomotive screamed So loud when driving in that I had to cover my ears. "

This example gives an object a voice to describe the sound it actually makes. The sound of the locomotive is perceived by the speaker as so unpleasant that he perceives it as human screaming and covers his ears.

The opposite of personification: reification

Reification is the opposite of personification. Instead of projecting human characteristics onto things, Reification transfers nonhuman qualities to people. This stylistic device achieves a particularly pictorial and dramatic effect that emphasizes the representativeness of people in this world.

For example, the human being can be represented as a chess piece or inanimate and cool like an object. Sometimes the author's emotions can also be made more tangible in this way so that a clear message is achieved.

  • “Roofers crash and go in two
    (from the poem “End of the World” by Jakob van Hoddis)
  • “His will was iron.”
  • “With his aura darkened he the whole room. "
  • "The human hover past each other. "
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