Personification in Literature: Definition & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: What is a Tall Tale? - Definition, Characteristics & Examples

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Definition
  • 0:39 Examples of…
  • 0:59 Examples of…
  • 3:00 Why Use Personification?
  • 3:18 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed Audio mode

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Debbie Notari
In this lesson, we will look at personification. Personification is a form of figurative language in which something that is not human is given human characteristics. This device is often used in poetry to enhance the meaning and beauty of poems.


Personification is a part of figurative language. A writer can either say something literally, or figuratively. If it's literal, then the words mean exactly what they say. But the meaning of figurative words is hidden behind description. When a writer uses figurative language, the description brings a deeper meaning and understanding to the words.

Personification is a type of figurative language where non-humans are given human characteristics. In this lesson, we will look at a few examples of how personification is used in literature.

Examples of Personification in Phrases

Here are a few examples of phrases. For instance, to describe rain, one might say, 'The clouds wept.' Clouds obviously cannot cry, but we can imagine them crying when it's raining. Here is another example. 'The floor complained when Grandpa stepped on it.' Floors don't literally complain, of course.

Examples of Personification in Poetry (Example 1)

In this section, we'll look at three examples of personification in poetry. The first is the poem, 'Because I could not Stop for Death,' by Emily Dickinson. In this poem, Death is treated like a person, taking on the characteristics of a carriage driver. The first stanza reads:

'Because I could not stop for Death,

He kindly stopped for me;

The carriage held but just ourselves

And Immortality.'

In Dickinson's poem, Death stops the carriage, drives slowly, passes a school, and pauses. These are the actions of humans, but in this poem Death has taken on these characteristics.

Examples of Personification in Poetry (Example 2)

The second example is 'The Sick Rose,' by William Blake. It reads:

'O Rose thou are sick,

The invisible worm,

That flies in the night,

In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed

Of crimson joy,

And his dark secret love

Does thy life destroy.'

Roses aren't like people who become ill. Also, a rose doesn't have a bed or a secret love. But the poet uses personification to enhance both the description of the rose and our understanding of the destruction of something beautiful.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account