What is the poetic term called where weather creates an effect on the mood of the poem?

1 Answer
Jun 2, 2017

Pathetic Fallacy


Pathetic fallacy is a literary device in which human emotions are attributed to aspects of nature, such as the weather. For instance, the weather can be used to reflect a person’s mood, with dark clouds or rain present in a scene involving sorrow. It’s a form of personification.

A novel that famously makes use of pathetic fallacy is Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, the stormy characters and tumultuous relationships of which are reflected in the novel’s setting: the bleak Yorkshire Moors. Ferocious thunderstorms mirror Heathcliff’s aggression, and elsewhere reflect the turmoil Cathy must go through in choosing between Edgar and Heathcliff.

Pathetic fallacy is even present in the name of the novel, which is also the name of the farmhouse in which the story is set; the word “wuthering” refers to wind so strong that it makes a roaring sound, or to a place characterised by wind that roars. Such threatening weather is used to create a sense of foreboding, forming a menacing backdrop to a story populated by characters whose violent and jealous temperaments are hugely destructive to themselves and others.