Better Students Ask More Questions.
What literary term means the following: An inanimate object given animate...
4 Answers | add yours
High School Teacher
You could be talking about personification. This is where nonhuman objects or animals are given human qualities. A "talking dog" is given the human quality of speech, and "a couch full of love" is given the human ability to love.
Another term that you might be referring to is anthropomorphism. This is when human motivation, characteristics, or behavior are given to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena.
Posted by bmadnick on June 27, 2007 at 4:02 AM (Answer #1)
High School Teacher
The term you are looking for is personification, which means the giving of physical or human characteristics to ideas, thoughts or inanimate objects. Wonderful beginner examples of personification can be found in William Wordsworth's poem, "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud". I listed some examples for you.
I WANDERED lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.Ten thousand (daisies) saw I at a glance,Tossing their heads in spritely dance.The waves beside them danced. ....And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.
Posted by brendawm on July 4, 2007 at 12:44 PM (Answer #2)
I think you're comparing apples with oranges here :-)
A talking dog would be an example of anthropomorphism. If you break it down - anthro = man or human and morph = shape - the author is giving human characteristics to something that isn't human.
"...couch full of love..." is an example of a metaphor, the most common kind of literary comparison.
In Zora Neale Hurston's "The Gilded Six Bits" she writes, "The hours went by on their rusty ankles." She is comparing two dissimilar things (hours don't have ankles...they probably don't even have toes) to create the effect of time passing very slowly. This metaphor is particularly rich because she is writing about an African American community that would be within a generation or two of emancipation.
For future reference on this kind of question, I would highly recommend either the enotes literary terms section or the American Heritage Dictionary (4th edition) for definitions and usage.
Posted by rb1384 on February 25, 2008 at 4:12 PM (Answer #3)
The answers you have been given are pretty good, but one of my professors once said that we are much given to "pathetic fallacy" by placing emotional characteristics upon inanimate objects. In A Handbook to Literature we are told that the term was coined by Ruskin to denote the tendency of man to credit NATURE with the emotions of human beings. I believe this is the term you will want to use in the examples you have given.
Posted by npdckrsn on August 8, 2008 at 7:47 AM (Answer #4)
Related QuestionsSee all »
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.