Zoomorphism is the device of giving animal-like qualities to humans, gods, and inanimate objects. It can include giving the features of one animal to another.
Therianthropy is a special class of zoomorphism where a human is able to shape-shift into an animal.
The word zoomorphism comes from the Greek words ζωον (zōon), which means “animal,” and μορφη (morphē), which means “shape” or “form.”
Difference between zoomorphism and anthropomorphism
Zoomorphism is the opposite of anthropomorphism.
- Anthropomorphism involves giving human characteristics and qualities to animals or deities.
- Zoomorphism involves giving animal qualities to humans.
Examples of Zoomorphism
1. Many superheroes have superpowers that involve animals.
- Ant Man
- Black Panther
2. Some idiomatic phrases in English are examples of zoomorphism.
- She was barking up the wrong tree by questioning him.
- The trade deal ruffled some feathers in the company.
Zoomorphism in literature
Zoomorphism is found in mythology, folklore, religion, classical literature, and modern genre fiction such as science fiction, fantasy, and comic books.
Gods were represented in animal form in several different religions: the deity Ganesha (the elephant-headed god in Hinduism), or the Holy Spirit in Christianity (represented with a dove).
“In classical literature, the sphinx played an important role in the play Oedipus the King by Sophocles …”
Zoomorphism is common in examples of comparing a person’s features, movements, or characteristics to an animal. This popular device aids in describing a new character to a reader.
Examples in literature
Examples here from Othello (William Shakespeare), The Golden Compass (Phillip Pullman), Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling), and more. Quiz included.
Zoomorphism, Literary Devices, literarydevices.com.