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The Artistic Creation of Life

Animation Vs. Personification

The art of creating characters is a representation on reality. In other words, characters in books and films do not actually exist. However, a good creation of a character causes the audience to temporarily forget that the character is only an artistic creation. In order to create a character, the artist needs to give it life. This illusion of life includes, motion, imagery and emotions. This can be done by giving the characters animation and personification. What is the difference between the two? Do the characters need to be both personified and animated? In the picture book The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss and in the film Pinocchio by Walt Disney productions, there exists both animation and personification. To clarify, animation is the artistic creation of life and movement. Personification is the attribution of human characteristics to something non-human.

In the book The Cat in the Hat there are six main characters: the fish, the cat, the two kids, thing one and thing two. All of the characters have movement, so all of the characters are animated; however, some characters are more animated than others. In the case of Pinocchio, the animation is more important than The Cat in the Hat, because Pinocchio is a film and does not have visible text. As the same in The Cat in the Hat, all of the characters have motion, which means all of the characters in Pinocchio are animated. The characters I am going to look at from Pinocchio are Pinocchio, Mister Geppetto, Jiminy Cricket, Honest John and Monstro.

As for animation, lets look at the text first. Early in the book the cat is already animated by text by giving him movement: “we saw him step in” (Seuss 6). Another example of this is: “Then he fell on his head” (Seuss 21). Thing one and two are very animated as they have lots of motion: “They ran up! They ran down!” (Seuss 42). The pictures are the most important part for animation in The Cat in the Hat. One image that shows lots of motion and animation is on page nineteen. The picture is of the cat on a ball and holding many objects, including the fish. Two ways that the picture displays motion in this picture is the water splashing out of the fish’s bowl and the smoke floating away from the recently blown out candles. The cat itself is the most animated character, thing one and two are the second most animated. The kids are the least animated, as they have the least amount of movement of all the characters.

Pinocchio has the most interesting movement in his story; this is because he can move in ways the other characters cannot. This is especially shown in the scene when Pinocchio is getting ready to go to school and his father asks him to turn around to show off his outfit. The movement displayed is Pinocchio spinning his body around while his head remains in the same place. Another good example of Pinocchio’s high animation is when Pinocchio is in the puppet show and sings and dances. Since Pinocchio has the most interesting and noticeable movement in the film, Pinocchio is the most animated character.

Now, lets look at personification. The kids are the only characters that are human in Cat in the Hat. So they are immediately declared not personified. However, the cat, fish, thing one and thing two are all non-humans. The fish and the cat are personified, but thing one and two are not. The small thing that makes the fish and the cat personified is their ability to speak. The more important thing that makes them personified is their ability to express emotions in a human like way. Both the fish and the cat express a variety of emotions throughout the picture book, however thing one and two only express two different emotions. Thing one and two are always happy in every picture, except on page fifty-three, where they both look surprised (Seuss). Meanwhile, the cat and the fish display a variety of emotions in a human like way. The pictures of the cat shows his facial expressions to be sad, confused and happy and the pictures of the fish are angry, scared and concerned. Pinocchio also has some characters that are considered not personified.

Mister Geppetto is the only human character, which makes him ineligible for the title of personified. Jiminy Cricket is an insect and Honest John is an animal, so they are both eligible for personification. Both characters display a wide variety of human emotions, including fear, anger and greed. These variety of emotions are displayed in a human way makes both Jiminy and John personified. Most importantly, Pinocchio is a wooden puppet (for the majority of the movie) that is alive and displays a wide variety of human emotions. Pinocchio is a very personified character.

So what’s the difference between animation and personification? A good example to look at is the character Monstro, the whale. Overall, Monstro is a non-human character that is not personified. However, Monstro is given one moment of personification in the film. This moment of personification is the only time the whale is shown to have a strong emotion: anger. This is done by showing the whale’s brow lower, followed by a glare at his prey. This way of showing anger is how the human face expresses anger, hence adding human like characteristics to something non-human. Other times in the film Monstro is only animated and not personified. A good example of this is when Monstro chases Pinocchio and friends on their raft. Monstro’s swim is full of quick and intricate movements that are full of life and very interesting to watch. This creation of character is very animated. However, Monstro’s swimming is not similar to human motion. This makes his swimming movement only animated and not personified.

One difference between animation and personification is that personification does not always exist in a character, while animation does. For example, all the characters in The Cat in the Hat and Pinocchio are animated; but only the characters that portray a vast amount of emotions, in a human like way, are personified. Animation is needed for any character to exist, because a character can not exist without life and movement. Personification is used to make a character more understandable and relatable, however it is only needed when the character is already non-human. Therefore, the difference between animation and personification is that animation is needed to create any character while personification is specifically used to create humanoids. 


Works Cited

“Definition of Animation in English:” Animation. Oxford, n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2015.

“Definition of Personification in English:” Personification. Oxford, n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2015.

Dr. Seuss. The Cat in the Hat. New York: Random House. 1957. Print.

Pinocchio. Dir. Ben Sharpsteen and Hamilton Luske. Perf. Cliff Edwards and Dickie Jones. Walt Disney, 1940. 

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