All terms

What is Pathetic Fallacy?

Attributing human emotions or characteristics to inanimate objects or nature.

When Nature Takes on Human Emotions: Understanding the Pathetic Fallacy

Pathetic fallacy is a literary device that involves the attribution of human emotions or characteristics to inanimate objects or nature.

When writers use the pathetic fallacy, they give a voice to natural phenomena like rain, wind, and storms, as if they were capable of human thoughts and feelings. This technique can be used to create vivid imagery, or to reflect or enhance the mood or tone of a scene or piece. By imbuing the natural world with human emotions, writers can create powerful and memorable moments that stir the imagination.

The term 'pathetic' in this context does not mean 'pitiful,' but rather derives from the Greek word 'pathetikos,' meaning 'emotional' or 'passionate.' The word 'fallacy' does not imply that the technique is false or incorrect, but rather refers to the fact that it involves a deliberate distortion of reality for artistic purposes.

Feeling All the Feels: Examples of Pathetic Fallacy in Classic Literature

Here are two examples of how classic authors have used pathetic fallacy to evoke emotion and create striking visuals in their writing:

Shakespeare's King Lear

In King Lear, Shakespeare uses a storm to reflect the inner turmoil of the play's characters. As the storm rages on stage, so do the passions and conflicts of the human characters, highlighting the chaos and tragedy of the situation.

Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

In Wuthering Heights, the moors surrounding the characters' homes take on human qualities, representing the dangerous, wild, and uncontrollable force of passion that runs through the novel.