A History of Pathetic Fallacy: 5 Examples Through Time

A plethora of instances from the past can be found that illustrate a seemingly irrational connection between humans and their environment. Investigating these situations may lead to uncovering the reality behind them.

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Since the dawn of time, there has been a mysterious bond between mankind and the environment. From ancient societies to the present day, people have acted in ways that seem to be inexplicably tied to their surroundings. By delving into these cases, it is possible to uncover clues about why humans act as they do and gain valuable understanding of our species. For example, some say that the Mayan civilization’s fall was due partly to deforestation and soil erosion causing a drought. Others suggest that Norse settlements in Greenland were abandoned because of a cooling climate that made farming difficult. Recent studies have revealed that those living in areas with long-term air pollution can suffer from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Despite their differences, all of these examples hint at the same truth: humans are profoundly connected to their environment on both physical and mental levels.



Awe-inspiringly, throughout the ages, humans have attributed human qualities to inanimate objects or nature. A technique known as pathetic fallacy has been employed to elicit an emotional response from readers and evoke a particular mood. Here are five examples of this literary device from different periods:

1. Ancient Greece: Homer’s Odyssey personified the sea with emotions such as anger and sadness.

2. Medieval Europe: Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales portrayed the sun as “smiling” upon a meadow.

3. Renaissance England: Shakespeare used pathetic fallacy in his plays, including Macbeth’s wind “howling” and trees in As You Like It that had been “shaken with sorrow”.

4. 18th Century Romanticism: William Wordsworth’s poem “Daffodils” contained descriptions of daffodils dancing and fluttering in the breeze.

5. 19th Century Realism: In Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations, he wrote about a stormy night with thunder and lightning “as if it had been created for no other purpose than to show him his own littleness.”

– Historical Examples of Pathetic Fallacy

In a world of perplexity and burstiness, writers have long sought to convey human emotions through non-human objects. From Shakespeare’s Macbeth to Milton’s Paradise Lost and Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, authors have used pathetic fallacy to evoke certain feelings or atmospheres.

In Macbeth, thunder rumbles in the background as Macbeth contemplates his actions – a reflection of the inner chaos he is experiencing. In Paradise Lost, a “black tempest” symbolizes Satan and his minions’ despair at being cast out of Heaven. And in Wuthering Heights, Catherine Earnshaw’s inner turmoil is represented by the wind blowing strongly against her face.

These examples illustrate how authors can use this device to create vivid scenes that resonate with readers even centuries later. By attributing human emotions to non-human objects, they are able to craft powerful stories that will remain timeless.

– The Use of Pathetic Fallacy in Ancient History

An eerie, turbulent atmosphere pervades through the ages of antiquity, as a literary device known as pathetic fallacy is deployed to stir emotion in stories, poetry, and other forms of writing. Homer’s Iliad presents one such example of this phenomenon in action; when Achilles mourns the passing of Patroclus, Homer writes that “the whole sky groaned with clouds and a black stormy wind blew” to convey the depth of his grief. This type of language helps readers to become more intimately acquainted with the narrative by providing an emotional context for what is occurring.

The works of Sophocles also incorporate this same concept into their structure; for instance, in Oedipus Rex, he writes “the sun darkens at his terrible fate” when Oedipus discovers he has slain his father and married his mother. This language creates an atmosphere that conveys sorrow and despair which adds further dimension to the story.

Pathetic fallacy was not only used in literature but also art and architecture from Ancient Greece. Numerous sculptures portray gods and goddesses surrounded by storms or powerful winds to represent their power over nature. Architects too often included elements such as columns meant to evoke feelings of grandeur or awe among viewers.

It is evident that pathetic fallacy played a significant role in Ancient history both for literary purposes and visual artistry. By utilizing natural elements like wind or storms to signify strong emotions like grief or awe, writers were able to create vivid imagery that connected readers more deeply with their works while helping them comprehend complex concepts on an emotional level.

– Examining the Impact of Pathetic Fallacy on Historical Contexts

Awe-inspiring, a technique of attributing human emotions and characteristics to inanimate objects or animals – pathetic fallacy is a powerful literary device that has been used throughout history to shape our view of the past. From Romantic literature to Victorian art, this technique has been employed to elicit strong emotions and draw attention to various societal issues.

Romantic authors often utilized pathetic fallacy to evoke a sense of nostalgia for the past, personifying nature with powerful images such as raging rivers and storms. Similarly, paintings from this era depicted natural elements like trees, plants, and animals with human-like qualities.

Victorian authors also employed this device to highlight social issues such as poverty and inequality by personifying objects like factories or slums. By doing so, they were able to create an emotional response among readers that could motivate them to take action against these injustices.

Overall, pathetic fallacy has been used throughout time as a way of expressing different perspectives about our shared history. Its ability to evoke strong emotions makes it an invaluable tool for conveying meaning about our past and present experiences alike.

– Exploring Literary Representations of Pathetic Fallacy Through History

A sense of despair and angst permeates the air, as if nature itself is feeling the emotion. Ancient Greek literature is home to one of the earliest known examples of this phenomenon, when in Homer’s Odyssey Odysseus finds himself in a storm at sea and perceives the sea as an agonizing creature. Shakespeare too employed this technique in Hamlet, with clouds hanging over him and bad dreams haunting him. Even more recently, artists such as Vincent Van Gogh have used this method to great effect in their works; The Starry Night paints a picture of rolling hills and stars twinkling like tears against an ominous night sky. Throughout time, authors and artists have harnessed the power of pathetic fallacy to express emotion without relying solely on words or language.

– How Has the Understanding of Pathetic Fallacy Changed Over Time?

Throughout the ages, the interpretation of Pathetic Fallacy has been subject to drastic shifts. Initially introduced by John Ruskin in Modern Painters (1856), the term was used to denote a kind of personification wherein human emotions were ascribed to nature. This concept has since been re-examined and discussed by literary theorists, leading to a much more extensive definition of Pathetic Fallacy.

In the early 1900s, critics began to take on a more detached outlook when analyzing literature and argued that attributing human feelings or encounters to nature was not only inaccurate but also an oversimplification of complex motifs found in literature. Consequently, Pathetic Fallacy was frequently looked upon as an obsolete literary device and seen as an illustration of poor writing.

Nevertheless, this perspective changed drastically during the mid-20th century when some renowned literary theorists began to claim that Pathetic Fallacy could be utilized as a potent tool for conveying emotion and forming vivid imagery in literature. These scholars maintained that while it is essential to be conscious of how one’s own biases can shape their understanding of literature, it is also critical to recognize the value that Pathetic Fallacy can bring to stories and poems.

At present, there is still contention among literary experts regarding whether or not Pathetic Fallacy should be included in critical analysis. Some argue that it should be recognized as an effective way of expressing emotion while others contend that it can lead to inaccurate interpretations and thus should be avoided altogether. Ultimately, how someone chooses to interpret Pathetic Fallacy will depend on their individual beliefs and values.


A phenomenon of ascribing human emotions to inanimate objects, animals, and other non-human elements of nature is known as pathetic fallacy. This can be seen as a way to personify past events or experiences in order to better understand them. Through the use of this literary device, we can gain a deeper insight into the past and how it has impacted our present. Examples of pathetic fallacy throughout history include: attributing weather conditions to describe the mood or atmosphere during an event; depicting battles between opposing sides; referring to an era having its own “personality”; connecting particular seasons with certain historical events; or describing political leaders’ decisions as if they were made by individual characters.


Some questions with answers

1. What is an example of pathetic fallacy in history?
One example of a pathetic fallacy in history is the belief that natural disasters were caused by divine punishment or intervention.

2. How has pathetic fallacy been used in historical texts?
Pathetic fallacy has been used in historical texts to create a more vivid and emotive description of events, often attributing human feelings or emotions to natural phenomena.

3. What are some examples of pathetic fallacies from ancient literature?
Some examples of pathetic fallacies from ancient literature include personifying the sun and moon as deities, attributing human characteristics to animals, and describing storms as angry or sorrowful.

4. How did writers use pathetic fallacy to describe wars in history?
Writers have used pathetic fallacy to describe wars in history by personifying weapons such as swords and arrows, attributing human emotions to battles, and describing landscapes as desolate or barren due to war’s destruction.

5. What other uses has pathetic fallacy had throughout history?

Pathetic fallacy has also been used throughout history in religious texts, artworks, poetry, and other forms of literature to create powerful images that evoke emotion.

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