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Personification Versus Anthropomorphism

Stephanie Bradberry is an herbalist, naturopath, and energy healer. Her academic career includes teaching, tutoring, writing and editing.

personification-versus-anthropomorphism

Overview

The difference between personification and anthropomorphism causes much debate. Both are literary terms and used to add more description, depth and visualization to one’s writing. However, these terms are not interchangeable, as some believe. Each literary term will be discussed in turn based on: 1) definition, 2) examples, and 3) explanation.

Personification

Personification

Personification is when a person or fictional figure acts as, or is said to be, the physical form of a quality or an abstract idea or concept. In fact, personification is actually related to a metaphor. Examples of personification include Father Time, Mother Earth, saying that Hitler was the Devil incarnate, and “justice” as a blindfolded woman. In each case, the physical embodiment of the term is a human form: father, mother, historical figure, and woman, respectively. However, what they represent is not living; rather, it is an idea or word—time, earth, evil/devilish, and justice, respectively.

Anthropomorphism

The Confusion Continues!

Yes, I know the author titled the video "Personification." But this video clip is really an example of anthropomorphism.

Anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism is when an inanimate object is given human abilities and characteristics. Examples of anthropomorphism include: Audre Lorde’s poem depicting rooming houses as old women, the animal characters in Alice in Wonderland and William Wordsworth’s poem describing daffodils dancing in the breeze. Boarding houses are literally buildings, but Lorde imagines them as having the characteristics of a specific type of individual. The movie has characters like the rabbit dressed in clothes, running on two legs, and talking. Wordsworth believes a plant is moving in a way that a human would.

In Sum

In sum, personification creates a real or imagined physical image of a word or concept. Anthropomorphism attributes human qualities, like emotions, to non-living and/or non-human things—which could include abstract ideas.

Stephanie Bradberry

Stephanie Bradberry

About the Author

Stephanie Bradberry is first and foremost an educator and life-long learner. Her present work is as an herbalist, naturopath, and energy healer. She spent over 13 years as a professor of English, Literature, and Education and high school English teacher. Stephanie runs her own home-based business, Naturally Fit & Well, LLC. She loves being a freelance writer and editor on the side.

Comments

Stephanie Bradberry (author) from New Jersey on March 22, 2015:

Hi tobusiness,

Thanks so much for reading. And I value your feedback. Glad you found it useful and easy to follow!

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on March 09, 2015:

Useful and beautifuly explained.

Stephanie Bradberry (author) from New Jersey on January 16, 2015:

Hi Peggy W,

Thanks for the compliment!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 15, 2015:

You explained the differences between the two words well. I have used both in my writings.

Stephanie Bradberry (author) from New Jersey on January 08, 2014:

Hi Evan Smiley,

I am glad I was able to clear the difference in terms up for you. It is not uncommon for people to use the same word for both terms.

Evan Smiley on January 06, 2014:

Very helpful! My high school teachers simply referred to both as personification, but I am so happy to learn the correct terms!

Stephanie Bradberry (author) from New Jersey on May 15, 2013:

Hello Ceres Schwarz,

Thank you so much. I know it took me a while to find some solid ways of remembering the difference. But now I am passing along just a tidbit of the differences.

Stephanie Bradberry (author) from New Jersey on May 15, 2013:

Hi DDE,

Thanks for the compliment, reading and commenting.

Stephanie Bradberry (author) from New Jersey on May 15, 2013:

Hello rajan jolly,

Thank you for the compliment. The difference can seem slight for those not into creative writing or majoring in Literature, English, etc. But hopefully this was helpful in some way to you :)

Stephanie Bradberry (author) from New Jersey on May 15, 2013:

Hi always exploring,

Thanks so much. I figured if I kept it brief it would diminish the chances of the information becoming too confusing.

Ceres Schwarz on May 15, 2013:

This is very helpful and informative. Personification and anthropomorphism can be easy to confuse with one another and this hub should help those who might be confused and are looking for the differences between the two. The examples you provided for each of the two just help to make things clearer for the readers.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 15, 2013:

An interesting thought here and so well approached on the topic thanks

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 14, 2013:

Very well explained. Frankly, I didn't really know the difference between the two. Thanks.

Voted up and useful.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 14, 2013:

This was a very interesting read. Your examples are clear and understandable. I love to learn new ideas. Thank you...

Stephanie Bradberry (author) from New Jersey on May 14, 2013:

Hello PegCole17,

Thanks for the compliment. You are quite welcome.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Stephanie Bradberry (author) from New Jersey on May 14, 2013:

Hello Jeff Berndt,

I too was often confused about how best to explain the difference and if there was much of one when I first started teaching. It took a lot of digging and unraveling to figure out there is a distinct difference.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on May 14, 2013:

I like your explanation and the examples of the differences between the terms. Thank you.

Jeff Berndt from Southeast Michigan on May 14, 2013:

Well done! Students and casual writers alike will find this useful--I've found that a lot of people confound these two literary devices, and you've very clearly explained the difference. Voted up.