Here it is, if you want a bit of a chuckle. I dredged this old exercise out of my files.  I may have mentioned earlier that I am tossing out all the paperwork and making room on my computer for pieces that did not quite make it but that I am too sentimental to get rid of entirely..

Shakespeare and I are appalled at today’s generation. Jaundiced paper-backs show no respect for tradition as they crumble away. I stroke Shakespeare’s thick Moroccan leather hide and wonder how many countless others have held him, but he won’t kiss and tell.

To personify is to give human attributes to anything not human,

Weather forecasters do it. They fondly refer to cyclones as Betty, Shirley or Gladys. Lee Marvin used to call the wind Mariah. Boats and are built along sleek and sensuous lines and are always female. Freud would have enjoyed untangling the sexual connotations.

The term can be used to describe people who embody some quality: He was the very personification of evil.

Poets and prose writers use personification as a literary device.

In the most famous (Judeo-Christian) tale of all, humanity will forever the fall from grace of Adman and Eve, due to the sly and devious machinations of a snake.

Terry Pratchett’s character, Death, is an animated skeleton who rides an equally skeletal steed called Binky. The Grim Reaper downsized in the interests of economy, uses his Scythe for more mundane purposes: mowing individual blade3s of grass and doing odd jobs around the farm. His inept attempts at a variety of human type jobs makes him just like us and makes us like and empathise with him.

Dorothy knows she isn’t in Kansas anymore. She can’t ignore the fact that she was hanging out with a cowardly lion, a brainless scarecrow and a tin man without a heart. Their bumbling endeavours to protect Dorothy from the Wicked Witch of the North and to help her reach the Wizard of Oz, gives them warm human characteristics that endeared them to the reader.

On a sunny summer Sunday, a fluffy white rabbit checked his fob watch and bolted past Alice Liddell. He muttered frantically that he was late for an appointment and disappeared down a rabbit hole. The fascinated Alice was jolted momentarily out of her Victorian, Rule Britannia complacency and followed.

Lewis Carrol personified the ordinary objects of his world and created a surreal world in which Alice was the odd one out. But the rabbit was the least bizarre of the characters she met in Carroll’s wonderland world. A dentally challenged Cheshire cat offered Alice his smile, a hookah smoking caterpillar spoke to her in riddles and offered her some magic mushroom and croquet playing, playing cards wanted to chop off her head.

William Wordsworth’s famous daffodils ‘flutter.’ They ‘toss their heads [in] sprightly dance.’

Literary personification can add another dimension to the tale, or transform frightening characters into endearing and therefore more accessible ones, or sometimes make character more memorable.



2 thoughts on “Personification

  1. Takes me to my school days and English teachers who used to love talking of personification. My classmates and I always wondered what object would be a living thing next class.

    • While your mob was wondering about personification, people I knew were forever discussing multiplication. Remember that Bobby Darren song? I suspected but never know what he was singing about. I was a real innocent.

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