What is Anthropomorphism?
A literary device that assigns human traits to animals, objects, supernatural beings, and emotions.
A famous example is Winnie the Pooh. Creatures in the 100-Acre Wood talk, and some walk on two legs.
Anthropomorphism vs. Personification
Anthropomorphism is similar to but not the same as personification.
- Anthropomorphism gives objects or animals human characteristics to make them appear human.
- Personification gives objects human characteristics to create imagery, as when we say something like, “Technology hates me!”
Why You’d Use Anthropomorphism
- It makes characters more relatable. If the inanimate playthings in Toy Story didn’t exhibit human emotions, we wouldn't be able to identify with them.
- You can tell stories beyond a human being’s perspective. Finding Nemo is set under the sea, but because the characters display human emotions, we can still connect with the story.
- Anthropomorphic animals or objects can be symbolic. In Animal Farm by George Orwell, the pigs represent the upper class and also symbolize greed — one of the book’s themes.
In A Dog's Tale by Mark Twain, the protagonist canine expresses shame, happiness, and fear.
In American Gods, Neil Gaiman anthropomorphizes technology and media to comment on modern lifestyles and values.
In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, the Caterpillar smokes, folds his arms, and speaks condescendingly.