Why Is Personification Used?

personification-used Credit: Mark Hillary/CC-BY 2.0

Writers use the literary device of personification to help readers connect more with objects, to build imagery and to make a story more interesting. Personification gives non-human objects human-like qualities, which makes them resonate more with readers.

Human-like qualities in objects allow readers to better envision what is going on in the story. If an author says, "The pages in the book spoke directly to John with their heartfelt words and character depictions," the reader may better envision John experiencing an emotional reaction as he reads. In some cases, personification converts an inanimate object in a story into an important character. For instance, personification is used in "The Wizard of Oz" to bring a lion, a tin man and a scarecrow to life. The characters are given the ability to act and speak, which makes them compelling members of Dorothy's entourage and helps to dramatize archetypal internal conflicts.

When a writer is able to appeal to a reader's emotion through effective personification, it is more likely that the reader will stay connected with the story as it evolves. Dry, straight-forward language can make it more difficult for uninspired readers to stay engaged. Personification not only gives life to objects, but it also gives life to the story.