Difference Between Personification and Anthropomorphism

Main Difference – Personification vs Anthropomorphism

Both Personification and Anthropomorphism are literary devices that attribute human characteristics to animals and other non-human beings. The main difference between Personification and Anthropomorphism is that Personification is the attribution of human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form whereas Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics to a god, animal, or object.

What is Personification

Personification is the attribution of human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form. These attributed characteristics can be feelings, emotions, motives as well as human actions. For example, let us look at the saying the stars winked. Stars are inanimate objects yet the action of winking – which is a human action – has been attributed to stars. This is because the twinkling of the stars in the night sky can be compared to winking.

What happens in personification is that the writer describes a quality of something non-human being or object by using human characteristics. But the object being described does not really have the attributed characteristics. Personification is mainly used to create vivid imagery.

“O Rose thou are sick,

The invisible worm,

That flies in the night,

In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed..”– “The Sick Rose”, William Blake

“The shattered water made a misty din.

“Great waves looked over others coming in.” – “Once by the Pacific”, Robert Frost

“Her heart was divided between concern for her sister and resentment against all the others.”– “Pride and Prejudice”, Jane Austen

“Hadn’t she known that something good was going to happen to her that morning–hadn’t she felt it in every touch of the sunshine, as its golden finger-tips pressed her lids open and wound their way through her hair?” “The Mother’s Recompense”, Edith Wharton

Main Difference - Personification vs Anthropomorphism

“The sea is a hungry dog,
Giant and grey.
He rolls on the beach all day.
With his clashing teeth and shaggy jaws
Hour upon hour he gnaws…” (The Sea, James Reeves)

What is Anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics and qualities to animals or other non-human beings. In anthropomorphism, the animal or other non-human beings such as deities, angels, demons, etc. are actually behaving like human beings: they can talk, walk, sing, dance and do a lot of other human actions. Some famous characters in children’s stories, films and cartoons such as Winnie-the-Pooh, Mickey Mouse, Pinocchio, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Goofy, Peter Rabbit are some examples of anthropomorphism.

Anthropomorphism is also a literary device that has been used by many authors. George Orwell’s Animal Farm can be taken as a prime example of anthropomorphism. The main characters are in the novel are animals and they act remarkably like human beings.

Other examples of anthropomorphism include Mark Twain’s A Dog’s Tale, Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. In these novels, the animal or other non-human creatures have been attributed with human characteristics.Difference Between Personification and Anthropomorphism

Difference Between Personification and Anthropomorphism


Personification is the attribution of human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics and qualities to animals or other non-human beings

Human Characteristics

Personification only attributes human characteristics to animals or objects to create imagery.

Anthropomorphism gives human characteristics, and nonhuman beings and animals really act like humans.


Personification gives a figurative meaning.

Anthropomorphism gives a literal meaning.Difference Between Personification and Anthropomorphism - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Peter Rabbit” By Beatrix Potter – Project Gutenberg (Public Domain)

“Part of the series , no. 21.” By Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎) – Restored version of File:Great Wave off Kanagawa.jpg (Public Domain) 

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