Personification Examples to Make Your Writing More Interesting

By: Yara Simón  | 
Close up shot of hands typing on laptop keyboard
You don't have to be William Shakespeare to spice up your writing with personification. mihailomilovanovic / Getty Images

Like other forms of figurative language, personification can make your writing more dynamic. By giving human qualities to inanimate objects, you can uniquely describe situations that will resonate with your reader.

Read on to learn more about the literary device through personification examples.


What Is Personification?

Personification is a literary device that gives human traits and emotions to nonhumans, like animals, objects or an abstract idea. It's more common to use personification in creative writing than in other types of writing, such as medical or business contexts.

According to Merriam-Webster, human beings have long used personification:


"Many of [the Greeks' and Romans'] gods and goddesses themselves represented a single thing, be it dawn (Eos, Aurora), wisdom (Athena, Minerva), or war (Ares, Mars); when depicted in idealized human form (as, say, a stately woman holding a scales), each became a personification of that phenomenon or quality or concept (in this case, Justice). Inspired by classical art, Renaissance painters and sculptors likewise began producing thousands of artistic personifications—of Time, or Folly, or France, or Vice, or Poetry, or the Americas."

Personification vs. Anthropomorphism

Personification is not the same as anthropomorphism, which is the literary technique of portraying animals, plants or objects behaving like humans.

You can see an example of anthropomorphism in "Fantastic Mr. Fox," a movie in which animals talk, wear clothes and plan elaborate schemes just as the human characters do.


Why Use Personification in Your Writing?

Giving objects or animals human emotions can help the reader form emotional connections to nonhuman figures. As with other literary devices, personification can also help paint a more vivid picture of a scene or make abstract ideas more accessible.

Charles Dickens, who employed personification regularly, saw these human attributes in everyday life. "This is a lesson taught us in the great book of nature," he said.


"This is the lesson which may be read, alike in the bright track of the stars, and in the dusty course of the poorest thin that drags its tiny length upon the ground. This is the lesson ever uppermost in the thoughts of that inspired man, who tells us that there are Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything."

Lastly, personification can make your writing more engaging, especially if you give unexpected human characteristics to an inanimate object.


5 Personification Examples

Here are a few examples of personification.

  1. Talking about the strength of the wind: As the rain died down, the wind only whispered.
  2. Explaining how loud your alarm clock was: The alarm clock shouted at me, jolting me awake.
  3. Describing the flickering of a candle: The candle flame danced a lively polka.
  4. Showing that you use your running shoes a lot: The shoes, tired from weeks of preparation, carried me to the finish line.
  5. Demonstrating the size of a mountain: The mountains stood tall, inspiring fear in the hikers.


Famous Examples of Personification

Authors regularly use personification in their works. Here are a few famous examples.

From "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood

"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 clamour to be heard, though silently."

From "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens

"They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and forgotten the way out again."

From "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein

"And the boy loved the tree very much.
And the tree was happy.
But time went by,
And the boy grew older.
And the tree was often alone."