Anthropomorphism is a literary device that involves attributing human traits, ambitions, emotions, or entire behaviors to entities that are not human, such as animals, non-human beings, natural phenomena, or objects.
Difference Between Anthropomorphism and Personification
Anthropomorphism is a type of personification where non-human entities, especially animals, are endowed with human characteristics. However, there is a subtle distinction between the two. Personification creates imagery by giving human traits to animals or objects, while anthropomorphism goes further by making these entities behave and appear as if they were human beings.
Examples of Anthropomorphism in Literature
Example #1: The Jaguar (By Ted Hughes)
In Ted Hughes' poem "The Jaguar," the fierce jaguar is portrayed with human-like thoughts and emotions. The poem offers readers a glimpse into the world from the jaguar's perspective, blurring the lines between the animal and human experience.
Example #2: Animal Farm (By George Orwell)
George Orwell's "Animal Farm" features anthropomorphic animals, with Old Major, a pig, delivering a political speech that mirrors human discourse. This use of anthropomorphism serves as a powerful allegory for human society and politics.
Example #3: A Dog’s Tale (By Mark Twain)
Mark Twain's "A Dog’s Tale" is narrated by a dog that possesses human-like emotions, including love and sorrow. The story explores the world through the dog's eyes, emphasizing its human-like qualities and experiences.
Function of Anthropomorphism
Anthropomorphism serves multiple purposes in literature. One key function is to broaden the appeal to readers, particularly in works targeted at a wide audience, including children. By presenting animated characters in tales and animated movies, it can engage and entertain a diverse readership.
Furthermore, in literature, anthropomorphism serves as an effective tool for creating political and social satires. It allows authors to use non-human entities to comment on and critique human behavior and society, making it a versatile literary device that extends beyond mere entertainment.