Personification is a literary device in which human characteristics and qualities are ascribed to an animal, object, idea, or concept. Writers find many uses of personification when writing prose and poems, and most people use personification in daily speech without realizing it. One way to use personification is to use something tangible to represent something intangible, like using a storm to represent anger, or a chaotic situation. Human characteristics and emotions might also be given to intangible things to help make them easier to understand or comprehend. A fever that won’t go away might be described as stubborn or dogged, while justice is often described as being blind.
In personification, some human attribute or emotion is given to a non-human creature, inanimate object, or intangible concept or idea. Personification is used in many types of literature, especially in poetry. A writer of prose, whether fiction and nonfiction, might also use personification to better describe his thoughts, ideas, and opinions to his reader. Giving human qualities to a non-human creature or inanimate object is one of the uses of personification that can help a reader more easily picture a concept in his mind. Personifying a concept or idea can help the reader understand it better.
One of the primary uses of personification is in metaphor, in which something tangible is used to represent something intangible. By personifying the intangible, it takes on a sort of life in the mind of a reader or listener. A person might describe a bad experience as a nightmare, or like a roller coaster ride. A storm could be described as an angry child throwing a tantrum, yelling and screaming and throwing things about. Death is often personified as the grim reaper, a frightening robed figure carrying a scythe whose job is taking the souls of the dead to the afterlife.
Another of the uses of personification is describing intangible ideas. Justice is sometimes described as being blind, meaning that it looks past things like race, wealth, and social status and only “sees” the truth of a given situation. A rushing river might be described as impatient, because it seems to be racing to get where it wants to go. Many poems, songs, and stories describe love as being stupid because logic and common sense don’t seem to play any part in who a person will fall in love with.