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Phillipp Veit's Germania (1877), a personification of Germany.

Personification is a figure of speech that gives non-humans and objects human traits and qualities.(EX: the bear was talking to the little girl) These attributes may include sensations, emotions, desires, physical gestures, expressions, and powers of speech, among others. As a figure of speech it has a very long history; its Greek name is prosopopoeia. Examples include: "The pencil flew out of my hand", "The tree jumped into the road in front of my car", and "With an evil scowl, the stormcloud thundered its disapproval". Personification is widely used in poetry and in other art forms.

Personification's treatment of inanimate objects is very similar to the figure of speech called the pathetic fallacy; the key difference is that personification is direct and explicit in the ascription of life and sentience to the thing in question, whereas the pathetic fallacy is much broader and more allusive. Another related rhetorical device is apostrophe; this entails not speaking about, but speaking to, a personified entity or an absent person. All these tropes should be understood as separate from anthropomorphism, which ascribes human attributes to any non-human entities, in particular to animals and other creatures.

An example of personification can be found in John Keats's "To Autumn," the fall season is personified as "sitting careless on a granary floor" (line 14) and "drowsed with the fume of poppies" (line 17), and John Donne's Holy Sonnet VI, in which death is personified as a "slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men" (line 9), and "poor" (line 4).

Personification is also widely used by individuals and mass media outlets when describing the actions of governments or corporations. Such as, "U.S. Defends Sale of Ports Company to Arab Nation" <ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> or "Microsoft embarrassed one final time over SP2". <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Personification is frequently employed in media headlines and cartoons.

Many familiar phrases and images employ personification -- for example, "blind justice".

[edit] Notes

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[edit] References

  • Knapp, Stephen. Personification and the Sublime. Harvard, 1985.

fr:Personnification it:Prosopopea he:האנשה ka:გაპიროვნება nl:Personificatie pl:Personifikacja pt:Personificação sl:Poosebljenje sv:Personifikation


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