Reification: A Real Tool, Maybe a Hammer

Today we are looking at reification, which is taking an abstraction and treating it like a concrete. It is similar to personification. Personification allows you to attach human qualities to anything, whether they be abstract or not, whereas, reification allows you to make an object out of any abstract thing.

Personification example: That sun you use to draw in elementary school in the corner of the paper, large rays and cool shades. (Well that’s not a literary example, I guess… Here; Even the sun had to wear shades to keep cool. -terrible, but I love it.)

The sun (as a concrete object) does not really wear shades and it is so far from being “cool” but attaching these human traits and objects, even addressing it as he, allows him to be like a person or personified.

Reification example: I held fate in my little fingers, like a dime, in-fact, fate was a dime, my last dime, and I slipped it in a machine, watched the wheels roll on and on with no spectacular ending. (Might be a bit cliché, but I really like that sentence).

Fate, in that sentence, is made into a concrete object, something the narrator can hold, manipulate.

Can you tell the difference?

It’s a very interesting process, choosing what objects symbolize certain abstractions. Is hate a sweater you throw on, bundled, literally get swallowed up in the threads?

Not only is the use of reifications useful in poetry, when creating concrete, tangible moments out of raw feeling is often a goal, but using them in stories is a great benefit as well. Within a novel, using a concrete object to equal an abstraction can help provide clues to the reader as to what is going on or being felt.

Here are a list of abstract words, try making a list of a few objects that could be a concrete counterpoint, a reification:


4 thoughts on “Reification: A Real Tool, Maybe a Hammer

  1. Ooh, I like this – turning something abstract into something physical.

  2. […] Reification: A Real Tool, Maybe a Hammer ( […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s