Personification in Wuthering Heights

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

Personification is a writing technique that makes a story more interesting. If you are unsure what exactly it is or how to find examples of it in ''Wuthering Heights'', look no further. In this lesson we will explore a few examples of personification from the book.


Let's get this part out of the way: personification is when a non-human object or idea is described using human qualities. Phew. If you listen to music carefully, or even read status updates, you are bound to find many instances of personification. For example, you might hear someone say or write ''the camera loves her.'' We know that the camera doesn't have human emotions and is not capable of love, but personifying it makes the sentence more interesting than ''she looks nice in pictures.'' Similarly, in 'Wuthering Heights', Emily Bronte (that's the author) uses personification to make the story more interesting.

The Runaway Kitchen

One clear example of personification comes when our narrator, Lockwood, describes Wuthering Heights. He examines the house and then says ''I believe at Wuthering Heights the kitchen is forced to retreat altogether into another quarter.'' Can you catch why this is personification? Take a moment and reread the sentence. Do you see anything being described as though it can behave like a human? Can you imagine a kitchen running away from something? Since a kitchen does not have legs to run away with, this is personification. Lockwood could have said ''I did not see a kitchen,'' and it would have been an accurate statement. However, accurate does not always mean interesting. One of the positive effects of personification is that it is more entertaining than straightforward statements.

The Escaping Chapters

Another solid example of personification occurs when Lockwood is getting ready to go to sleep. When he gets to his room, he finds some old mildewed books. Since Lockwood clearly does not have allergies, he cracks open those bad boys and flips through the musty old pages. As he does this, he notices that the margins and extra spaces are filled with writing. There is so much writing, that ''scarcely one chapter had escaped, a pen-and-ink commentary.'' Can you spot the personification here? Lockwood tells us that the chapters were not able to escape the writing. Since a chapter is not alive, it cannot really escape. This example makes the passage more interesting, but it also suggests that the chapters were being attacked by the writer. It sets us up to wonder who would do such a thing to a book.

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