Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Versatility in Cross-Cultural Variations of Personification

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Versatility in Cross-Cultural Variations of Personification

Article excerpt


Literature was first structured by great figures' literary and non-literary works that gave birth to the metaphorical conceptualization. The personalities like Dante and Rumi who developed the first social-cultural universality by using personifications - though from two different parts of the world. The power of poetry which can be created in personification is one of the different ways to bring universality of the metaphorical expressions into literature. Although personification is the important part of metaphorical poetry, very few researchers analyzed it. To this end, inspired form Kovecses (2007) classification of metaphoric expressions, it was attempted to analyze Rumi's Masnavi Ma?navi's (Spiritual Couplets) first (4003 verses) and second books (3822 verses) in terms of personification along with Dante's Devine comedy including Inferno and Paradise. Chi-square test was run to find the type, the frequency and significance of the personification's application in these two poets' works. Findings revealed significant differences namely, nature and animate personifications in these great works. Finally, it was revealed that poetry could manifest different sociocultural and religious bonds between different societies.

Key words: Personification; Conceptualization; Metaphorical expressions


Literature is an eternal perch of such distinctive figures who led the universality in their amazing works. Among these great personalities, poets' like Dante's and Rumi's emotions, socio-cultural backgrounds and specifically God could be delicately touched in their poems. And though these two magnificent poets were from two sides of the universe but they have been occasionally addressed as indicating intertextual mutual religious thoughts in such works as 'Divine comedy' and Rumi's 'Masnavi Ma?nvi' (spiritual couplets) (It is going to be referred as 'Masnavi' in the rest of the study). But a few researchers (Ambarita, 2008; Goddard, 2011; Sinulingga, 2007; Zhan, 2009) analyzed the frequency of personification in different poems and the great bond of society, culture and religion was ignored in Dante's and Rumi's greatest works. Personification is mostly defined as a figure of speech that brings human qualities to inanimate objects or abstract ideas. As Lakeoffand Turner (1989) explain, personification permits us to use our knowledge about ourselves to maximal effect, to use insight about ourselves to help us comprehend such thing as forces of nature, common events, abstract concepts, and inanimate objects (p. 72). Kovecses (2002) notes that "Personification permits us to use knowledge about ourselves to comprehend other aspects of the world, such as time, death, natural forces, inanimate objects, etc. and personification encourages us to view our surroundings from a fresh perspective" (Richard Nordquist, 2012). Personification is an essential part of allegory. When used in poetry, it can both pinpoints its themes and takes one to the fantasy world of wonders and the "frequent manipulation of personification also proves the anthropocentric view when people perceive the world" (Zhan, 2009, p. 19) in poetry. The fact about personification lies beyond this limited definition. Great poets like Rumi and Dante, looked at religious, cultural and social backgrounds of the context they lived when personified inanimate objects and even animals in their poems - the fact that was ignored in different comparative studies. To compare and contrast personification in Dante's and Rumi's works which were developed artistically in the use of imaginary fantasia, brief referring to their personal life and works would be of great use.


Durante degli Alighieri, also referred to as Dante, was born in Italy Florence on 1265. He was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the epic poem Divine Comedy which was translated into different languages and considered to be masterpiece of world literature. …

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