Pathetic Fallacy

Pathetic fallacy is a type of literary device whereby the author ascribes the human feelings of one or more of his or her characters to nonhuman objects or nature or phenomena. It is a type of personification, and is known to occur more by accident and less on purpose.

The softly whistling teapot informed him it was time for breakfast.

13 thoughts on “Pathetic Fallacy”

  1. like…”the wind hinted at an oncoming storm” ? or would it have to say “the wind hinted at an oncoming storm to the man on the porch” i guess my question is whether or not the sentence has to contain BOTH the weather (example) as well as the person interpreting the information, or if it’s still a pathetic fallacy without a character there to interpret it, even if the reader does

    1. The characters feelings are what’s being interpreted here. In the example the page provided, the whistle of the teapot informs the character that it’s breakfast time. That means that the character acknowledges and uses the teapot as his own sign for things. So, the feelings of the character are made known through the use of the pathetic fallacy.

    1. Anthropomorphism is making inanimate objects come to life. Pathetic fallacy is giving inanimate objects human characteristics.

  2. I’m not so sure what the exact difference is between pathetic fallacy and personification. Could someone clarify?

      1. wouldn’t it be more appropriate to say – a sad rainy day? because in this way you are giving the emotion of sadness to nature, which is not human and a person has emotions.

    1. pathetic fallacy is when human emotions is reflected to nature or inamitate objects
      whereas personification gives objects human qualities for effect (not literal)

    2. Pathetic Fallacy focuses more on how the weather changes the mood of the scene. Such as ‘the woman stared out of the window at the thick, grey clouds’. The ‘thick, grey clouds suggest that her mood could be angry or upset. Personification is where you use a verb that you would use for an object that is alive and use it on an inanimate object, hope this helps 🙂

  3. So Pathetic Fallacy is giving an object human emotions, like Friendly Sun. What’s it called when the surroundings seem to reflect some other part of the plot? For example, a storm breaking out during a murder scene.

    1. Not quite, what you are describing there is personification, where you give objects human emotions or make them do something like “the sun smiled”. Pathetic fallacy is in fact using weather to set the tone/setting of the scene or text.

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