What is Personification? (PERS-ON-IF-ICK-AY-SHoN)

Personification is when an object is given human qualities.

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macbeth is feeling a little nervous before attempting to kill his King, Duncan. He says:

“Hear not my steps…for fear thy very stones prate of my whereabout.”

The word “prate” means to speak, so we see that Macbeth is afraid that the stones under his feet will begin to shout out to Duncan and warn him that Macbeth is going to kill him! This creates a very tense setting, as if everything were against Macbeth doing this evil deed. It also makes the stone floor seem friendly, as if it wants to protect the King.

Personification can also be used for happier reasons: imagine the animated characters in Pixar and Disney movies. Because things like toys in Toy Story, cars in Cars and snowmen in Frozen are animated, we love these characters: they make us laugh, they make us cry.

Why do we use Personification?

Personification makes the setting of a story more vivid, or allows a writer or poets to bring something alive that we don’t normally think of that way, so that we can think or feel more strongly about that thing, as if it were human like us.