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Literature Glossary

Don’t be an oxymoron. Know your literary terms.

Over 200 literary terms, Shmooped to perfection.

Anthropomorphism

Definition:

Who's your favorite talking dog? Goofy? Brian Griffin? Odie the pug?

No matter your answer, you already know anthropomorphism like the back of your hand. Put simply, it's when an object or animal does human things. We're pet-people here at Shmoop, so we like the animal ones the best.

An animal talking? Anthropomorphism. An animal singing? Anthropomorphism. An animal starting a revolution? Anthropomorphism.

That last one—George Orwell's Animal Farm—is probably the most famous examples of anthropomorphism, especially because the animals become more and more human throughout the book—by the end, they're walking on two legs and acting even worse than the humans against whom they rebelled to begin with.

You might be thinking that anthropomorphism sounds a lot like personification—and you're right. But here's the difference. With anthropomorphism, the object or animal is actually doing something human. With personification, the object or animal just seems like it's doing something human.

Example? Don't mind if we do:

"The fog waltzed through the hills." Personification.
"The fog grew legs, grabbed a partner, and waltzed through the hills to the tune of 'Piano Man http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVKtL9VU8rQ.'" Anthropomorphism.
How's that for a vision?