Pathetic Fallacy Examples

Pathetic Fallacy

Pathetic Fallacy is the attribution of human characteristics to non-human things. When objects, or especially animals, are given human emotions, an author has used pathetic fallacy. It is different from personification. With personification, the inanimate object is described as or compared to a living thing. With pathetic fallacy, the non-human thing actually has emotions.

Examples of Pathetic Fallacy:

In Macbeth, emotions and actions are attributed to nature on the night that the king is murdered:

"The night has been unruly ... Lamentings heard in th' air, strange screams of death ... The obscure bird clamored the livelong night. Some say the Earth was feverous and did shake."

Similarly, Bronte uses pathetic fallacy in Wuthering Heights to have the natural setting reflect the desolate mood of the characters:

About midnight, while we still sat up, the storm came rattling over the Heights in full fury. There was a violent wind, as well as thunder, and either one or other split a tree off at the corner of the building; a huge bough fell across the roof, and knocked down a portion of the east chimney-stack, sending a clatter of stones and soot into the kitchen fire.

Mary Shelley also uses pathetic fallacy in Frankenstein. Again, natural phenomena are given human emotions:

"The desert mountains and dreary glaciers are my refuge."

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