Zoomorphism vs. Anthropomorphism

While zoomorphism means to ascribe animal behavior and characteristics to an object or non-animal being, anthropomorphism assigns human behavior and characteristics to a non-human animal or object. Like zoomorphism, anthropomorphism can be a single phrase or an extended metaphor, like the talking animals in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

The word “zoomorphism” comes from the ancient Greek words “ζωον μορφη” or “zōon morphē,” meaning “animal form” or “animal morph,” while “anthropomorphism” means “human form” or “human morph.” Other literary terms and devices related to zoomorphism include personification (the attribution of human characteristics to abstract ideas, natural phenomena, or inanimate objects in a figurative manner), therianthropy (the ability to shape-shift into inhuman creatures), and chremamorphism (assigning object qualities to human subjects).

3 Examples of Zoomorphism

Writers use zoomorphism to assign animal-like qualities to non-animal subjects for added effect. Here are three zoomorphism examples:

  1. 1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare: While this entire play is not an example of zoomorphism, this line describing “batty wings” is an example of the literary device: “Then stir Demetrius up with bitter wrong / And sometime rail thou like Demetrius / And from each other look thou lead them thus / Till o’er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep / With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep.”
  2. 2. “Fame is a bee” by Emily Dickinson: In this short poem, Dickinson uses zoomorphism to describe notoriety, writing, “Fame is a bee. / It has a song— / It has a sting— / Ah, too, it has a wing.”
  3. 3. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: Though this novel is not an example of zoomorphism as an extended metaphor, this line that likens a character’s hunger to that of a cat is an example of the technique. Hurston writes, “Mrs. Tony was so eager she sometimes stepped on Joe’s heels, sometimes she was a little before him. Something like a hungry cat when somebody approaches her pan with meat.”
The Guru

Written by MBarq

I am a post graduate in English from Kashmir University . I have been teaching literature for last 15 years and now working with Foundation World School as English Mentor

Leave a Reply

Integrated Pedagogy: A Holistic Approach to Learning

The Essence of Science in Daily Life: Beyond a Subject