pathetic fallacy


pathetic fallacy
the endowment of nature, inanimate objects, etc., with human traits and feelings, as in the smiling skies; the angry sea.
[coined by John Ruskin in Modern Painters Vol. III, Part IV (1856)]

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      poetic practice of attributing human emotion or responses to nature, inanimate objects, or animals. The practice is a form of personification that is as old as poetry, in which it has always been common to find smiling or dancing flowers, angry or cruel winds, brooding mountains, moping owls, or happy larks. The term was coined by John Ruskin in Modern Painters (1843–60). In some classical poetic forms such as the pastoral (pastoral literature) elegy, the pathetic fallacy is actually a required convention. In Milton's (Milton, John) “On The Morning of Christ's Nativity,” all aspects of nature react affectively to the event of Christ's birth.

The Stars with deep amaze
Stand fixt in steadfast gaze

      Ruskin considered the excessive use of the fallacy the mark of an inferior poet. Later poets, however—especially the Imagists of the early 20th century, as well as T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound—used the pathetic fallacy freely and effectively.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • pathetic fallacy — n. [first used by J. Ruskin] in literature, the attribution of human feelings and characteristics to inanimate things (Ex.: the angry sea, a stubborn door) …   English World dictionary

  • Pathetic fallacy — The pathetic fallacy or anthropomorphic fallacy is the treatment of inanimate objects as if they had human feelings, thoughts, or sensations. The pathetic fallacy is a special case of the fallacy of reification. The word in this use is related to …   Wikipedia

  • pathetic fallacy — noun the fallacy of attributing human feelings to inanimate objects; the friendly sun is an example of the pathetic fallacy • Hypernyms: ↑fallacy, ↑false belief * * * paˌthetic ˈfallacy f6 [pathetic fallacy] noun …   Useful english dictionary

  • pathetic fallacy — Projecting or displacing human emotions and feelings onto things that do not have them, although they may prompt emotions in us. We are supposed to commit the fallacy by talking of angry weather and sad trees. But the descriptions may be apt with …   Philosophy dictionary

  • pathetic fallacy — pa.thetic fallacy n [U] technical the idea of describing the sea, rocks, weather etc in literature as if they were human …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • pathetic fallacy — noun Date: 1856 the ascription of human traits or feelings to inanimate nature (as in cruel sea) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • pathetic fallacy — noun An error in logical argumentation which consists in treating inanimate objects or concepts as if they were human beings, for instance having thoughts or feelings …   Wiktionary

  • pathetic fallacy — noun the attribution of human feelings and responses to inanimate things or animals …   English new terms dictionary

  • pathetic fallacy — noun (U) technical the idea of describing the sea, rocks, weather etc in literature as if they were human …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • pathetic fallacy — pathet′ic fal′lacy n. fia lit. the endowment of nature, inanimate objects, etc., with human traits and feelings, as in the smiling skies[/ex] …   From formal English to slang


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