Can I get some personification out of Great Expectations? I just need some personification examples with proof with quotes and this is like a priority that my teacher is requiring and I can't find...

Can I get some personification out of Great Expectations?

I just need some personification examples with proof with quotes and this is like a priority that my teacher is requiring and I can't find any.

Asked on by shawty53

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bmadnick's profile pic

bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Personification is giving human qualities to nonhuman objects. There are a number of examples in Great Expectations. I've quoted a few below.

That cake is begging me to eat it. Mrs. Joe calls the branch she uses to whip Pip and Joe "The Tickler" as though it had its own personality.

The cake is given the human quality of "begging", and the whip has its own personality.

A frowzy morning of soot and smoke attired this forlorn creation of Barnard, and it had strewed ashes on its head, and was undergoing penance and humiliation as a mere dust-hole. (p. 171)

The morning of soot and smoke "strewed" (scattered) ashes and was doing penance, a human action of repenting.

I saw that the lamps in the court were blown out, and that the lamps on the bridges were shuddering,...(p. 315)

Lamps are given the human action of "shuddering".

billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There are some excellent examples of personification in chapters 2 and 3. Pip, much against his will, has stolen from both his sister and from his brother-in-law and best friend Joe Gargery. He has taken some bread, some rind of cheese, about half a jar of mincemeat some brandy, a meat bone, and a whole pork pie. He has also stolen a file from Joe's forge. In Chapter 2, as he hurries to meet the convict at the old battery as promised, Pip imagines that inanimate and animate things are watching him and imagines what they are thinking and saying. Inside the house the very floorboards seem to be trying to warn Pip's sister that he is stealing her food and brandy.

As soon as the great black velvet pall outside my little window was shot with gray, I got up and went downstairs; every board upon the way, and every crack in every board, calling after me, “Stop thief!” and “Get up, Mrs. Joe!”

When he gets outside, the dykes and banks seem to be witnesses to his thievery. And occasionally he runs into a cow who materializes out of the mist and stares at him while seeming to be crying out a warning to stop him. Pip is a highly imaginative boy, and he is in a state of extreme panic. It seems plausible that he would be inventing the personifications he describes.

The gates and dykes and banks came bursting at me through the mist, as if they cried as plainly as could be, “A boy with Somebody-else's pork pie! Stop him!” The cattle came upon me with like suddenness, staring out of their eyes, and steaming out of their nostrils, “Holloa, young thief!” 

Pip has been so terrified by the convict that he probably brings a lot more than the convict expected. It is a great feast for the poor hungry man, and the brandy and pork pie must be especially welcome. It is probably because of Pip's extreme bounty that Abel Magwitch remembers him with such gratitude and affection, and it is probably because of Pip's bounty that Magwitch decides to make Pip a gentleman. The convict and the boy have become co-conspirators. Pip has stolen for the first time in his life. Magwitch has been stealing all his life. Pip knows what it feels like to be a hunted convict because of the crime he has just committed.

But Dickens gives no hint in the opening chapters that Pip will ever hear from this man again, or that there is any possibility that Magwitch would ever find himself in a position to be able to lavish hundreds of pounds on anyone.


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