illustration of a guillotine

A Tale of Two Cities

by Charles Dickens

Start Free Trial

Explain how personification is used in the following quote from A Tale of Two Cities: “Hunger rattled its dry bones among the roasting chestnuts.”

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This quote contains personification because it gives human attributes to something that is not human. "Personification" is a literary device. It is a sort of metaphor that describes an abstraction (in this case hunger) with qualities usually reserved for humans (having bones).

Obviously, hunger does not actually have bones. However, Dickens' narrator uses this personification to emphasize the morbid and insidious nature of Hunger as it torments and kills the peasants in Saint Antoine, France. The narrator wants the reader to imagine their hunger as some sort of emaciated person whose bones rattle together. In fact, he even capitalizes the word to make it seem more like an actual character rather than something more abstract. The reader can imagine Hunger going about the French countryside wreaking havoc on the starving peasants.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team