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How to describe a setting using Personiofication???

16 Jun
Leaves

Image by Big Grey Mare via Flickr

The setting of a short story is very important part, getting the setting right , and making it good means you will have a good story. There are many things and techniques used to describe and create the setting, one of these things which are used to create the setting is using Personifications.

So What is a Personification?

Personification is when something described as if it is alive when it is not.

For example:

The leaves danced in the gentle breeze

The verb “danced” is not usually used for leaves and makes them sound human. They don’t decide to dance, but the breeze makes them look as though they are dancing.

 

So now we know what is a Personification , but how can we use it in creating the setting of a short story????

To answer this question let’s read the extract below ,it’s from the opening of the novel Bleak House, by Charles Dickens .

Fog everywhere, Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tires of shipping , and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes; fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards , and hovering in the rigging of great ships , fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the toes wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ‘prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog al around them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds.

We can see from the above the different use of personifications in creating the atmosphere and the setting of short story.

Some of the personifications from the opening:

  • where it rolls defiled among the tires of shipping
  • fog lying out on the yards
  • hovering in the rigging of great ships
  • fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers

and still there are more personifications in the above opening, the above opening is a good example of showing how can we use personifications to describe and create the setting of the story and come up with a great setting just like what Charles Dickens did.

You might ask why some of the sentences are short like ” Fog everywhere ” , that is not a really sentence because it does not have a verb. However, it is dramatic and it instantly sets the scene, and that is why Dickens used it.

Personifications can be used to describe the setting of short stories and they make the story interesting, creative and unique.

Every sentence in the extract, apart from the last one, follows the same structure. They start with ‘Fog’ and then describe where the fog is. Have a go at writing a similar paragraph following the same structure, like this:

Rain everywhere. Rain….

You can use this as an exercise to practice using personifications.

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