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Personification in a Sentence

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Do you have a way with words and enjoy figurative language? Personification in a sentence grabs the reader’s attention and is a great way for kids to relate to an object or animal in a story or understand the main message of a piece.

You can use personification in a sentence to greatly enhance your next story, poem, discussion, or literary prose. You might find it enjoyable to describe a thing acting like a human. It’s a unique way to make your writing more original and interesting!

 

Personification Definition: Bringing Inanimate Objects to Life

As a
, personification is a tool that we can use extensively in expressing our thoughts. It means attributing human characteristics to something that is not human.

This creative tool helps bring non-human things to life and describes animals and objects using qualities that only a human can have!

Personification can also act as a metaphor, comparing two things efficiently, often in a poetic fashion.

In this blog, we will see what personification does to a writer’s style and check out a lot of examples to help you get accustomed to identifying them in speech or literary pieces.

A Close Reference

One famous example of personification would be the Walt Whitman line, “And your flesh shall be a great poem.” Whitman is not suggesting that your flesh is literally a poem- that would be impossible and disconcerting–but rather that your entire self is a work of art.

Within the context of the Leaves of Grass preface, the quote means that by living your life with love, patience, purpose, and meaning, the self too will achieve meaning and purpose!

Though Whitman’s quote is a metaphor, it is not a precise personification. Rather, personification in a sentence is a specific type of metaphor in which something that is not human is given human traits.

A far closer example is from John Keats’ “To Autumn”

“Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch eves run.”

Here, the thing that does the “conspiring” like humans is autumn, and “him” is the maturing sun. Neither of these things can conspire because autumn is a season and sun a star!

But for the purpose of evocative literary flair,and to illustrate how perfect the season is, Keats suggests they can. This obviously doesn’t mean that the sun and autumn are literally whispering into each other’s ears. Instead, Keats is suggesting harmony and natural order in the universe.

As the sun matures into the later stages of the year, the fruit in the vines ripens for harvest. As the sun moves further from the Earth, the weather cools and autumn breaks in as if the two were consciously working together.

Hence the idea of conspiring. The dramatic effect of language helps us get a more vivid and memorable picture of what the seasons are like!

 

Examples of Personification in a Sentence 

John Keats is a famous poet who uses personification with elan. You can use personification in different ways to great effect. You don’t have to be a world-renowned romantic poet to use it though; it is a simple method of stylizing your speech.

Check out these
:

The stars winked in the night sky.

Stars, having no eyes, cannot wink at all. But to denote the twinkling, you can use the verb “winked”.

A bridge stretched over the interstate.

A bridge cannot literally stretch, but from this phrase, we have the mental image of it meandering gracefully across the land.

The cave mouth yawned.

Humans can yawn.  A cave mouth, contrastingly, cannot yawn. Still, we get the mental image of a cave mouth stretched and extended.

The smell of baking muffins welcomed us inside.

A smell can’t welcome, but the narrator feels soothed and refreshed by a homey fragrance.

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Poetry Personification Examples

Poets often use personification in a sentence to convey meaning and depth. Few words carry as much meaning as figurative personification.

“Because I could not stop for Death-

 He kindly stopped for me-

His carriage held but just Ourselves-

And Immortality-

– “Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson

In this poem, the poetess personifies death as a person driving a carriage. Within the poem, death is, in fact, a person. But Dickinson isn’t writing about a literal event that happened to her.

The relationship with death is used figuratively, illustrating how Death goes about doing its business without any regard for humanity’s leisure and work.

“Blackberries

Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes

Ebon in the hedges, fat

With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.

I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.

They accommodate themselves to my milk-bottle, flattening their sides.”

  • “Blackberrying” by Sylvia Plath

Plath compares blackberries and humans and says that blackberries like eyes are ‘dumb’, in that they cannot speak. These also cannot squander and can’t be a sisterhood or even love and accommodate themselves.

Plath isn’t trying to tell us that these are magic blackberries with all those traits. She, in fact, is using personification to connote her relationship with blackberries, demonstrating a unique bond between her and them. Through personification, Plath shows us how blackberries aren’t just fruit to her!

 

“There is something subversive about this garden of Serena’s, a sense of buried things bursting upwards, wordlessly, into the light, as if to point, to say: Whatever is silenced will clamor to be heard, though silently. […] Light pours down upon it from the sun, true, but also heat rises, from the flowers themselves, you can feel it: like holding your hand an inch above an arm, a shoulder. It breathes, in the warmth, breathing itself in.” 

 

– The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

 

In this Atwood prose piece, there are a couple of instances of personification in a sentence. Buried things don’t really burst upward but they grow. To ‘burst’ is to move suddenly and these plants don’t do that.

Likewise, Atwood says that the heat also breathes. Since heat does not have lungs like humans, it can’t breathe. But she is giving everything in Serena’s garden a sense of life so that heat too, has the vitality.

In another famous literary piece, The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald shares his take on painted eyes.

“[The eyes of TJ Eckleburg] look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a non-existent nose. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness or forgot them and moved away. But his eyes dimmed a little by many paintless days under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground….”

 

– The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

If these eyes were attached to a human being, they might brood as an extension of the human. The eyes of TJ Eckleburg are painted on a billboard and not joined to the human face.

These eyes find it impossible to brood and they have no emotions. However, the quote demonstrates the mood that the eyes are cast over the valley and it’s a dreary and dark day. The way the author characterizes the painted eyes reflects this!

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Pop Culture Examples of Personification in a Sentence

You don’t have to look at books and literary pieces to find personification examples. TV programs and music videos too can contain personification. Here are a few examples below.

The movie Inside Out is itself a form of a metaphor. In real life, our emotions are not humanoid figures that pull levers. Portraying emotions in this way, however, demonstrates how instrumental they are in giving us joy or sadness and also encourages viewers to appreciate their complexity.

Sadness is not bad, and joy is not perpetually good, when we give each human traits.

“You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it

You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes

You’re paralyzed

Cause this is thriller, thriller night

And no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike.”

 

– “Thriller” by Michael Jackson

 

Michael Jackson’s Thriller was a pathbreaking pop song that had a few examples of personification, too. In just this verse, terror acquires the sound and horror to “look right between the eyes.”

Logically, emotions cannot look at anything. But using this kind of language to describe fear, gives it an agency that brings in energy to the song.

It’s not difficult to see why the song became a blockbuster. Jackson was able to express how fear can trap you and make you feel out of control.

 

Personification Conclusion

Personification can be a very useful literary device.

For more information on how to identify and use these in writing, you can check out the English language worksheets for middle and high school students from Argo Prep, a leading online provider of test and supplemental educational products in America.

 

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