Anthropomorphism is very common in literature and entertainment. Any time a non-human character displays human behaviors or characteristics, that is an example of anthropomorphism. There are many anthropomorphism examples in TV shows and movies, advertising/branding messages, and many works of writing.
What Is Anthropomorphism?
Anthropomorphism is a commonly used literary device in which a non-human object or character behaves the way a human would act, or otherwise exhibits characteristics of a human being. Simply put, any character that acts like a human yet is not human exhibits anthropomorphism. This literary device is often used with animal characters, though it can also be used with non-living, inanimate objects.
Anthropomorphism in Movies and TV
There are many anthropomorphic animals and objects in popular movies and television shows. Any non-human characters that walk, talk, sing or dance are examples of anthropomorphism.
- Disney animal characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and many others represent anthropomorphic animals.
- Fifi the talking feather duster in the animated version of Beauty and the Beast is a non-living object with human characteristics.
- Lightning McQueen and the other Cars characters, such as Tow Mater and Sally Carrera are vehicles that behave like people.
- Simba, Mufasa, Scar and all of the other talking lions from The Lion King are examples of anthropomorphic animals.
- The title characters of the Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer cartoons exhibit human behaviors and characteristics.
Anthropomorphism Examples in Children's Books
There are many anthropomorphism examples, especially in children's books.
- Alice in Wonderland's Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit and Caterpillar are anthropomorphic animals.
- Aragog, the enormous spider from the Harry Potter series occasionally talks to the actual human characters.
- Aslan, the lion from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe from C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series is able to talk.
- Dr. Seuss' title characters from works such as The Cat in the Hat and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas are not human, yet communicate as if they are.
- Thomas the Tank Engine and the other talking train characters from the Thomas & Friends series are vehicles with human characteristics.
Anthropomorphism in Literature and Poetry
Anthropomorphism in writing isn't limited to children's literature. There are anthropomorphic characters in many books written for an adult audience.
- The animals in George Orwell's Animal Farm talk to one another and plot against the actual humans.
- In Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, the title character starts out human but becomes a talking cockroach.
- J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy is filled with anthropomorphic characters, including talking dragons and trees, plus (of course!) the ring itself.
- Homer's epic poems, The Odyssey and The Iliad, feature many gods and other non-human figures from Greek mythology exhibiting human behaviors.
Examples of Brand Anthropomorphism
It's not unusual for businesses to use anthropomorphism in their branding messages. Non-human characters that look and act like people make great product mascots and are ideal to feature in animated commercials and other types of promotional messages.
- Snuggle Fabric Softener - With its talking teddy bear mascot, Snuggle is counting on customers wanting laundry to feel as snuggly as a beloved plush toy.
- Kellogg's Frosted Flakes - Kellogg's Frosted Flakes cereal is branded with Tony the Tiger, who lets everyone know that Frosted Flakes are Gr-r-reat!
- Geico - You may wonder what a talking lizard has to do with insurance. It's all about brand recognition when a company chooses a marketing mascot.
- Cheetos - Chester the Cheetah is the smooth-talking, fashionable anthropomorphic mascot for Cheetos brand snacks. Chester is one cool cat!
- Charmin - Charmin takes brand anthropomorphism to an all-time high with its talking bear family in search of soft toilet paper.
Anthropomorphism Examples in the Bible
There are even examples of anthropomorphism in the Bible. This includes situations where animals take on human characteristics, but also ones in which God appears in human form or otherwise exhibits human behaviors.
- In the book of Genesis, the serpent talks to Eve and convinces her to eat the forbidden fruit. The serpent is an anthropomorphic animal.
- God appears in human form in many biblical stories. For example, the book of Numbers refers to a face-to-face conversation between God and Moses.
- There are many references throughout the Bible to God's face, hands and eyes, each of which represents anthropomorphism with regards to the deity.
- The New Testament focuses on Jesus' time on Earth, during which time he, a divine being (the Son of God), took on fully human form and lived a human life.
Anthropomorphism in a Sentence
Review these anthropomorphism examples sentences to get a sense of how the word might be used in writing or conversation.
- My Sunday school class is studying examples of anthropomorphism in the Bible.
- I have to learn how to spell anthropomorphism for my literature class quiz.
- On the test, the teacher asked for three examples of books that include anthropomorphism.
- Anthropomorphism is a big word that applies to talking animal cartoon characters.
- My English professor wrote her Ph.D. on the role of anthropomorphism in fantasy novels.
- I have to write a paper on why anthropomorphism is so common in children's books.
Explore Anthropomorphism vs. Personification
Now that you know what anthropomorphism is and are familiar with some examples of this concept, take the time to expand your knowledge about the related concept of personification, which involves the metaphorical application of traits that only humans can have to objects. From there, discover the similarities and differences between personification vs. anthropomorphism so you can tell them apart.