Personal Metaphor is the figure of speech in which a personal attribute is given to an element of nature in a manner that implies a comparison with a living being.
The personification is often confused with another figure, known as the personal metaphor, which consists in the transference of personal attributes to the elements of nature. Thus, in the expression of the prattling ‘brook’, the personal quality ‘prattling’ is given to the ‘brook’, an element of nature. Similarly, there are ‘the angry ocean’, ‘the smiling flower’, ‘the cruel river, ‘the frowning sky . and so on. In each of these cases, some personal quality is transferred to a natural element. At the same time, this transfer of the personal quality to an element of nature implies a comparison between that element and the living being.
The Personal Metaphor is so named because it involves both a personification and a metaphor. In it, an element of nature is, in the first place, given an attribute of a living being. This is the case of personification. In the second place, the figure institutes an implied comparison between the element of nature and a living being. This is a metaphor.
It has already been seen that, in the example given above, “the prattling brook’, an element of nature, is invested with the attribute of a living being in the word “prattling’. But this is not all. An implied comparison is also instituted between the brook and the child, that prattles. The brook is imagined to prattle like a child.
The essential characteristics of a personal metaphor are the following:
(1) A personal attribute is transferred to an element of nature.
(ii) This element is treated as a living being.
(iii) An implied comparison is instituted thereby.
(iv) The comparison is between the element of nature and a living being.
(i) I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers. –Shelley
This is a personal metaphor.
In a personal metaphor, a personal attribute is transferred to an element of nature in such a manner as to imply a comparison between this element and a living being.
Here ‘flower’, an element of nature, is given the personal attribute of a living being in the word, ‘thirsting’. A comparison is also implied here between ‘flowers’ and ‘the living being’, feeling thirsty. Flowers are shown to feel ‘thirsty’ like living beings.
(ii) And the weary day turned to his rest.
This is an instance of personal metaphor.
Here ‘day’, a part of nature, is given a personal attribute in the epithet weary that makes it alive. Again this is compared to a living being.