Can you use the landscape and personification to imply what a person is thinking?


The forest thought that these branches could be good for hanging myself (suicide).

Is this a valid figure of speech? I am not saying if it sounds nice or good, which it does not for some reason. It sounds stupid. I am asking if we can do stuffs like this.

  • 2
    We are talking fiction? There is broad latitude in what you can do for stylistic reasons, but you need to be clear the FOREST isn't really thinking, and that the character is imagining the forest's thoughts. Otherwise, the forest MIGHT be thinking, and a character in the story. Otherwise I'd go with something like' "The Trees were all scaffolds for suicide nooses," to indicate the character's thoughts.
    – DWKraus
    May 8, 2021 at 14:21
  • You might want to add some tags to indicate the kind of writing this is.
    – DWKraus
    May 8, 2021 at 14:23

2 Answers 2


I think in your example you are personifying the 'Forest' because

The forest thought that these branches could be good for hanging myself (suicide).

the forest is thinking.

And, the thoughts the forest is thinking

The forest thought that these branches could be good for hanging myself (suicide).

are clumsily expressing the forest's idea. You can personify anything that isn't human. In your specific example, where the forest expresses the opinion that the narrator should kill themselves reads more like creative fiction than non-fiction. It feels like magical realism or farce or satire. And, while farce and satire can be used in non-fiction, the indirectness of the forest's ideas feels obscure to me, but that is because it is just a stand alone sentence.

I expect you could build up to the idea and it would work very well. It might start as the narrator musing what the forest would think about the narrator committing suicide. While I and most everyone would discourage such action, a forest might view it as more food for its saplings.

  • Yourself refers to the person looking at the forest. Maybe I should have used myself here, because the person reciting the poem is projecting these thoughts to the forest. I am wondering if something like this can be done.
    – Sayaman
    May 8, 2021 at 15:40

If you write with a POV character (e.g. first or third person POV) your descriptions should always be colored by what that character is thinking and feeling.

For example, if the character is driving her car through a neighborhood and this is where she grew up and she knows everyone and has memories from many parts of the place, the description will be of one type.

If, on the other hand, the character is driving her car through a neighborhood looking for her underage daughter who ran away to a shady boyfriend, the description will be different.

In your example of the forest, if you have a POV character, let them think (or note) the trees have thick nice branches a person could hang themselves from.


I like oaks. They have these strong, reliable branches. If you hung yourself from one of them, they wouldn't fail you.

It will definitely be characterization and description in one, which is the whole purpose of "coloring" descriptions by the mood and personality of the POV character. We tell a little about what's being described and a little about the person seeing it.

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