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PATHETIC FALLACY AND PERSONIFICATION
Pathetic fallacy is giving inanimate (non-living) nature human terms. This is the easiest definition of it, but there other rules to its use. It can also be used when describing a character’s mood in relation to the weather. Sometimes it is better to pretend that it is called ‘empathetic mistakes’ as this is, quite literally, its definition. If you think about it, giving non-living, naturally occurring objects any emotion is a big mistake! When it is used effectively, pathetic fallacy can breathe life into a passage and make a student’s writing pleasant to the eye. Because the differences between pathetic fallacy and personification cause so much confusion, a grid system to help is below.
INANIMATE NATURE WEATHER REFLECTING MOOD
|The river was babbling.||The doom-black sky made the soldiers fearful.|
|The mountains were brooding.||The wind howled outside as the orphans cried within.|
|The wind was moaning.||The radiant stars made our cares fall away.|
|The sun was staring down at us.||The sombre clouds were darkening our mood.|
|The moon looked lonely in the sky.||The heaving ocean made us feel ill.|
Personification is giving animate (living) nature, non-natural objects and ideas human terms. Personification can add a tantalising and thought-provoking dimension to your writing. The distinctions between this and pathetic are marginal, but they are there.
ANIMATE NATURE NON-NATURAL OBJECTS
|The flowers were nodding their heads.||The ship was plodding as it left the harbour.|
|The lion was glaring at me.||The mobile phone had a mind of its own.|
|The bees were humming a tune.||The champagne glass was pinging with joy.|
|The trees were staring at us.||The car’s engine was screaming in pain.|
|The blackbird gave us an aria.||The words were leaping off the page.|
|Time is a great healer.|
|Fate was hurrying to meet me.|
|Destiny is no one’s slave.|
|Courage is the enemy of weak men.|
|Cowardice is a strange bedfellow for a man.|