The characters in these stories all act like people.
They all talk and think like people. Peter Rabbit and the three little pigs wear clothes, like people. Mrs. Potts, Lumiere and Cogsworth have eyes, mouths and noses, like people. Nemo goes to school like a human boy. When he goes missing, Marlin goes on a quest to find him, like a human father would. Scar “murders” his brother in order to take political power, just like some bad people might.
Personification is much more subtle. When we personify an animal or an object, it doesn’t have to walk and talk like a person or wear clothes. It doesn’t have to become a person. We simply interpret the animal or object’s normal behavior as though it had a human brain and human emotions.
Sylvester walks on two legs. He speaks English. He is so much like a person, he is almost not a cat anymore. He has been anthropomorphized – or given human form. (Don’t worry – you don’t need to know that word.)
Rushdie, on the other hand, is still a cat. He behaves like a cat and looks like a cat. When I personify him, he doesn’t start speaking English or get up and run on two legs.
I could say, “Rushdie sat haughtily on the table.” Haughty means proud, snobby or arrogant. It suggests that Rushdie thinks he is better than everyone else. In reality, Rushdie can’t think he’s better than everyone else. He’s a cat. He thinks about mice and sleeping and cleaning himself. Being a snob is a human trait. When I give it to Rushdie, I personify him. Why might I do that?
Personification is giving human characteristics to animals or things that are not human. These characteristics tend to deal with emotions, behavior, attitudes and motivation, not physical traits.
Two Sunflowers Move in the Yellow Room. "Ah, William, we're weary of weather," said the sunflowers, shining with dew. "Our traveling habits have tired us. Can you give us a room with a view?" They arranged themselves at the window and counted the steps of the sun, and they both took root in the carpet where the topaz tortoises run. ~ William Blake
I like to see it lap the miles, And lick the valleys up, And stop to feed itself at tanks; And then, prodigious, step Around a pile of mountains, And, supercilious, peer In shanties, by the sides of roads; And then a quarry pare To fit its sides, and crawl between, Complaining all the while In horrid, hooting stanza; Then chase itself down hill And neigh like Boanerges; Then, punctual as a star, Stop--docile and omnipotent-- At its own stable door. ~ Emily Dickinson