Answer by Mike Mendis:
In personification, something that is not human is imagined to be human and given human characteristics. This is often done for inanimate things as well as for concepts and abstractions.
For example, in the sentence: “Misfortune stalked my grandfather all his life,” misfortune is imagined as a person stalking (following or chasing or going behind) my grandfather.
Another example: If a writer describes a rainstorm with the words: “The heavens wept,” he or she would be personifying the heavens (the sky) by creating the image of the sky crying (the rain being the tears that fall from the sky’s “eyes”).
Here is yet another example: In English, we have a well-known saying, “Fortune favours the brave.” Here, fortune is personified, that is, it is imagined as a human being with a mind that can bestow favour on people and things—or withhold favour, if that is what it chooses to do. Fortune is said to bestow favour on those are brave, just as a king, for example, might bestow favour on one of his generals, or on someone who pleases him in his kingdom.
In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare writes: “Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, / Who is already sick and pale with grief ….” Here, Shakespeare personifies both the sun and the moon. He imagines the sun as a person who is going to kill the moon. Similarly, he imagines the moon as an envious person who is sad and therefore sick and pale.
In metaphor, something is presented or described in terms of something else that has some important characteristic(s) in common with the original thing.
For example, if a writer describes an old person as being in the evening of his or her life, the writer is using evening as a metaphor. Here, “evening” is being used as a metaphor for old age. Just as evening comes at the end of the day, so old age comes at the end of a person’s life. This common element is what connects old age and the evening and makes evening a suitable metaphor for old age.
In metaphor, there is no requirement that the image that is used should be treated or described as a person. A thing can be used as a metaphor for a person; a person can be used as a metaphor for a thing.
For example, in Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare writes: “What light through yonder window breaks? / It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” Here, Shakespeare is using the sun (a thing) as a metaphor for Juliet (a person). She is bright and shining, just as the sun is bright and shining. Shakespeare uses this common characteristic to create his metaphor of Juliet as the sun.
On the other hand, in Sonnet 18, Shakespeare writes: “Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines ….” Here, he is using the eye (a part of the human body) as a metaphor for the sun (a thing), without even mentioning the sun or saying that the sun is the eye of heaven. He simply refers to it as “the eye of heaven” and we know from the context that he is referring to the sun. The metaphor is simply substituted for the thing it stands for.
What is the difference between a metaphor and personification?