What is Personification?

Personification also known as 'Prosopopoeia' is a figure of speech that gives human qualities to abstract ideas, animals, and inanimate objects. It is the literary method of treating an abstract force or quality as if it were a person. It is a figure related to metaphor.

In it, either an inanimate object or an abstract concept is spoken of as though it were endowed with life or with human attributes or feelings. In the John Donne's poem, “Death, be not Proud”, Donne speaks of death as if it were a person with whom it is possible to argue about how strong he actually is. This is an example of the method of treating an abstract force or quality as if it were a person, it is called personification. For example:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so


William Shakespeare used personification in Romeo and Juliet in the lines “Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, / who is already sick and pale with grief.” Here, the moon is portrayed as being envious, sick, and pale with grief – all markedly human qualities.

Published on 23 Jan. 2014 by Kedar Nath Sharma

Related Topics

Metaphor: Introduction

John Donne: Biography

Death, be not Proud: Summary and Analysis