Personification is a literary device that gives human qualities or characteristics to inanimate objects, ideas, animals, or abstractions. It's a popular form of figurative language, and so it should be no surprise that examples of personification abound in Shakespeare's dramatic works. Here are a couple of examples of personification in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 3, Scenes 1 and 2:
- "The moon, methinks, looks with a wat'ry eye;/ And when she weeps, weeps every little flower,/ Lamenting some enforced chastity" (3.1.183-5). In this quote, Titania gives the moon human qualities, describing it as a woman weeping. Furthermore, she suggests that the moon objects to forces that aim to keep her from desired romance. Thus, it's obvious that, in this scene, the fairy queen imagines the moon as a human-like entity.
- "Dark night, that from the eye his function takes" (3.2.177). In this short quote, Hermia uses personification twice. The first instance of personification is applied to night, which is given the human ability to steal from someone else. Second, Hermia refers to the human eye as a "he," thus giving the body part a human personality. This idea might be potentially confusing because the eye is part of the human body, and so one might consider it human already. However, even if it is a body part, the eye is not a human being, and so personification is still used in this instance.
- "Till o'er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep/ With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep" (3.2.364-5). In this quote, Oberon describes the abstract idea of sleep as having the human ability to walk over a person's brows. This is a distinctively human quality, and so even though he also imbues sleep with "batty wings" (something humans don't have), Oberon's quote is still an example of personification.