Need some good examples?
Whether you’re writing a poem, learning a game, or even just looking for some way to spice up your writing, people are powerful creatures of words.
Not sure what a person is? Let’s take a quick look:
The sea groaned and wept.
Here, the sea is described as alive: moaning and crying, like a human being.
So how (and why) is person used in literature, poetry, pop culture, and everyday life?
Let’s dig in.
The word “personification” is used in a few different ways. This is a common definition – and the one we will focus on throughout our examples.
Interest is a characteristic of humans and inanimate objects, animals, or even ordinary thoughts.
You may also hear “person” to indicate that a character has a particular opinion, personality, or vice, in a piece of writing or art.
Why do writers use people?
Figurative language is a form of figurative language, where writers convey ideas or feelings by saying things that are not true.
Being human can make the non-human seem more obvious, even more dangerous, especially if that identification involves the use of emotional words.
“Fire devoured the house” can be more emotional “The house was on fire.”
Often, especially in poetry, people are used to create a special situation. It can make things seem ominous, for example, or give the impression of mystery.
An example of a person
It’s easiest to understand anthropomorphism (and how it differs from other systems, such as anthropomorphism) by looking at some examples.
As you can see from the many examples here, man is used everywhere not only in ancient literature but also in popular culture and everyday speech.
Examples of people in books
1. The Tell-Tale Heart, Edgar Allan Poe (1843)
Death, in coming to him has covered his face with a black shadow, and covered the person.
(You can read the whole story here.)
Poe’s short stories are filled with themes of fear and madness.
Like all of Poe’s writing, it is exciting and suspenseful. In this short piece, death itself is described: it “runs” like a person and casts a shadow.
Death is often described, sometimes to the point of becoming a real character – for example, try Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series or Emily Dickinson’s poems. Because I can’t stop for death.
2. Blackberry Wine, Joanne Harris
The word wine; ask anyone. The word that is on the corner of the road; an uninvited guest at a wedding reception; holy fool. He ventriloquizes. He has a million voices. He sticks out his tongue, teases the secrets you don’t want to tell, the secrets you don’t even know. He was screaming, shaking, screaming. It talks about big plans, big love and big tricks. Screaming laughter. He hugs himself slowly.
Wine is defined by the first sentence of this novel: “the word wine.” He was given human qualities, not only the ability to speak, but to insult secrets, shout, riot, whisper, and even laugh.
In the first UK edition of the book, the wine itself acts as the narrator:
“Take me for example. Fleurie, 1962. The last survivor a twelfth crate, bottled and laid on the ground the year Jay was born. … Five years ago, he laid me on a table with a silver candlestick , but nothing came of it. Still, he stayed with the girl.”
The US edition (rare) is very different, and the first-person history of the wine is completely absent; instead, the story is told as a more straightforward three-person story.
3. Romeo’s speech, Act 2 scene 2, Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare (1597)
But dream! What light breaks through the window there?
It is the sunrise, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, beautiful sun, kill the jealous moon;
A sick person ascends to the full,
And you, his female servant, are more beautiful than him.
(You can read more comments here.)
In the famous story of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo personifies the moon itself, expressing human emotions (envy, sorrow) and human behavior (sickness).
Natural forces, such as the sun, moon, stars, wind, rain, storms, rain, and fire are often described in books.
Interestingly, here, Juliet compares the sun to the sun – making it seem more powerful and distant than it actually was when she was young.
Examples of people in poetry
4. I wander alone like a cloud, William Wordsworth (1807)
I wander alone like a cloud
That floats over the hills and mountains;
When I saw a group of people at once,
Hosts, of golden daffodils;
By the lake, under the tree.
Waving and dancing in the air.
(You can read the entire poem here.)
This very famous poem by the romantic poet William Wordsworth describes seeing a “crowd” – a human word – of daffodils. Daffodils “dance” in the air, a human act that enlivens their movement and makes it joyful in the anticipated vision.
The dramatic nature of the daffodils is also explored in the second, which tells us that they “turn their heads to dance gracefully.”
Even the first line of this poem has a human quality, suggesting that the clouds can be lonely.
5. Valentine, Carol Ann Duffy (1993)
It’s not a cute card or a kissogram.
I give you an onion.
His sweet kiss will be on your lips;
have and should trust
In this poem, Carol Ann Duffy uses the onion as a symbol of love. The onion is endowed with the power of “kissing” – a human act – and gives it a sense of duality, possession, and fidelity.
6. New Year’s Chitchat, Brian Bilston (2023)
This is a song about going back to work in the new year and engaging in idle chitchat about Christmas. pic.twitter.com/mCei8tCS82
— Brian Bilston (@brian_bilston) January 4, 2022
This funny and (somewhat) outrageous piece is by Brian Bilston, often referred to as “the poet of Twitter”.
In it, the narrator’s dream is described as something with human fingers: they “snap their fingers in the coming day.”
Examples of People in Pop Culture
7. When the Cow Grows Color (media), Gray Canada
Interests can include pictures or illustrations, not just words. The picture below is part of this A very funny and engaging little series of adswith a toy bull hitting a toy bear.
Here, the bull is described: he sits on a couch reading a newspaper, with his feet up on the bear’s bed:
8. John McClane, Die Hard (1988)
John McClane: Now I know what TV dinner is like.
In movies, people are often used for individual actors, such as this one from John McClane, from the airwaves in Nakatomi Plaza. Clearly, dinner TV has no human capacity for emotion.
Check out the short video below:
Mother Yipee-ki-yay….readers 🙂
9. Dexter Morgan, Dexter (2006 – 2013)
I’m Dexter and I’m not sure what I am. I just knew that there was something dark inside me, and I was hiding it. I don’t talk about it, but it’s there – always. This dark traveler. But when he drives, I feel like… alive. Half sick and happy, perfect evil. I don’t fight, I don’t want to marry him. It’s all I have. Nothing else can love me, not even…especially not me. Or was the dark traveler just telling me lies?
Dexter’s “Dark Passenger” is how he describes his motivation to kill. It gives him human qualities—like the ability to love, and the ability to lie.
Watch the clip here:
Twelve Examples of Design
We always use person in everyday speech. Some people have gone into the cliche – like when I say that the food I eat is “calling my name.”
Here are 12 examples of how we define daily activities and events:
- “The iron screamed.”
- “Lightning dances across the sky.”
- “The car groaned.”
- “The computer is not working.”
- “The crown is calling my name.”
- “The bell rang.”
- “The flower was begging for water.”
- “The engine is hungry.”
- “Justice is blind.”
- “The tree is watching.”
- “The party died.”
- “The table groaned.”
Next, we will delve into literary terms that are closely related to humanity. It is important to distinguish between these people, because it is easy to get some of them – especially in anthropomorphism.
Anthropomorphism is when an animal or object behaves like a human. It’s easy to confuse it with human characteristics, but this is how they differ.
If the narrator refers to the moon as “watching”, but he means this only as a metaphor, that is a person.
If the moon has eyes and actually watches the Earth, that is anthropomorphism.
Anthropomorphism is associated with works aimed at children, but it also takes place in many works for adults. (Think of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, for example.)
Negative thinking says that human emotions are non-human.
Note that it’s mostly about emotions – not about other personality traits, like “being” or “walking”.
Crucially, empathic lies are also used to relate to people’s experiences – their surroundings reflect their circumstances. If the sky is “calm” but the narrator is full of joy, that is not a good example of a sympathetic breakdown.
Often times, trickery is used in gender matters. Rain can be described as “miserable”, for example – but in reality it is the unhappy character.
An example is a story or poem with a hidden meaning – usually a political or moral message.
The story may seem like the same thing on the surface, but it has a deeper meaning. Sometimes the meaning is sketched out, perhaps with the illustration first, followed by an explanation.
A great example is Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, where people’s beliefs about reality are compared to those in a cave, only able to see shadows rather than the things that make those shadows exist.
You can think of examples as extended, complete stories, metaphors.
An analogy draws parallels between one thing and another, completely unrelated thing. He says that one thing is another – although this is not true. For example, “this argument is a slippery slope” or “snow is a white carpet across the ground.”
In Romeo’s first speech, he uses metaphor when talking about Juliet, saying “Juliet is the sun.”
Use these sample sentences to write or study
We have looked at many examples of humans above. Some are recent, others are centuries old. Some are from classic novels, others from pop culture.
Whether you’re studying, trying to become a better writer, or even hoping to make more money writing, logging into this writing tool can help.
The next time you read a book or poem, or watch a TV show, focus on who you are. Just see it, though – find out how it feels. That way, you will get a deeper understanding of how people work.