Paraphrase Tool


Updated May 29, 2023

Understanding the Power of Anthropomorphism: A Closer Look at a Rhetorical Device


In the realm of literature and communication, rhetorical devices play a crucial role in captivating audiences and conveying ideas effectively. One such device that has stood the test of time is anthropomorphism. Derived from the Greek words "anthropos" (meaning human) and "morphē" (meaning form), anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics or behaviors to non-human entities. This captivating rhetorical device has been utilized across various mediums, from fables and fairy tales to marketing campaigns and even scientific literature. In this article, we will delve deeper into the power of anthropomorphism by exploring its impact, providing accurate examples, and understanding why it resonates so deeply with audiences.

The Impact of Anthropomorphism

Igniting Emotional Connections

Anthropomorphism has an unparalleled ability to create emotional connections between an audience and the subject being personified. By endowing non-human entities with human traits, we bridge the gap between the familiar and the unfamiliar, making it easier for us to relate and empathize with the subject. For instance, in Aesop's fable "The Tortoise and the Hare," the hare's arrogance and overconfidence are human characteristics that allow readers to understand and emotionally invest in the story. This emotional connection can leave a lasting impression, as it taps into our innate tendency to connect with other beings.

Simplifying Complex Ideas

Another strength of anthropomorphism lies in its ability to simplify complex ideas or concepts. By attributing human traits to abstract concepts or even inanimate objects, we can make them more relatable and comprehensible. Take, for example, the representation of death as the Grim Reaper. By anthropomorphizing death, we create a visual representation that helps us conceptualize the abstract concept of mortality.

Examples of Anthropomorphism

Advertising and Branding

Anthropomorphism has long been employed in advertising and branding to evoke emotions, create memorable characters, and establish a connection with the target audience. One notable example is the iconic Pillsbury Doughboy character. This lovable anthropomorphic figure, with its giggles and soft physique, humanizes the dough and creates a friendly association with the brand.

Children's Literature

Anthropomorphism is particularly prevalent in children's literature, as it helps young readers understand complex ideas through relatable characters. The beloved Winnie the Pooh series by A.A. Milne exemplifies this perfectly. Each character represents a different personality trait, allowing children to identify and relate to the anthropomorphized animals while learning valuable life lessons.

Scientific Communication

Even in scientific literature, anthropomorphism finds its place. In research papers and popular science writing, authors often use this rhetorical device to make complex scientific concepts more accessible and engaging to general audiences. For instance, researchers might describe a virus as a "silent invader" or a cell as a "hardworking factory," humanizing these scientific entities to help readers grasp their functions and implications.

Why Anthropomorphism Resonates

Emotional Connection

As social beings, we naturally seek emotional connections with others. Anthropomorphism allows us to forge these connections, even with non-human entities, by attributing human characteristics to them. This connection elicits empathy, understanding, and a desire to protect or care for the subject, ultimately making the message more impactful.

Familiarity and Relatability

By attributing human traits to non-human entities, anthropomorphism creates a sense of familiarity and relatability. We are more likely to engage with and understand concepts or stories that involve characters or subjects similar to ourselves. Anthropomorphism leverages these innate tendencies, making it easier for audiences to connect with the message being conveyed.


Anthropomorphism, the rhetorical device that attributes human characteristics to non-human entities, has proven to be a powerful tool in literature, advertising, and scientific communication. By creating emotional connections, simplifying complex ideas, and tapping into our innate tendencies, anthropomorphism captivates audiences and leaves a lasting impact. Whether it's through beloved characters in children's literature or relatable representations in advertising, this rhetorical device continues to resonate with us, reminding us of our shared humanity and bridging the gap between the human and non-human world.

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