What is this literary term?

In my high school AP English class, we were all forced to make these literary term cards, which included the definition, an example from a book we’ve read, and an example we made up. You’d think I’d remember them, but now that I’m in college, I can’t remember this really basic one and it’s bugging me (I’m a Bio major so it doesn’t really affect me; I just find it annoying that I can’t remember what it is).

Basically, the term refers to nature reacting to an event in the story. For example, when Jesus was crucified, there was darkness throughout the land. Does anyone know what I’m talking about?

Mother Nature experiencing empathy.

Sounds like a kind of personification. fictio?

Pathetic Fallacy?

I think I know what the op is talking about, It’s mentioned in a discworld book. There’s a character who, every time he mentions a certain word, there is a crack of thunder.

Something including the word ‘narrative’, ‘poetic narrative?’

“Pathetic fallacy”, IIRC.

“Pathetic fallacy” is the closest I could find, too, but it seems to be defined more as nature being assigned human emotions/intentions . . . doesn’t seem to be quite the same thing as the OP is talking about, but as it’s been mentioned here several times already that might be it.

Cite #1

Cite #2

“Pathetic fallacy” is the closest I could find to it as well, but I don’t believe it’s the one I’m thinking of… I’m beginning to think my AP English teachers made this term up or taught us a false definition for “pathetic fallacy”.

If only I had saved those literary term cards! Thanks for everyone’s help so far.

I happen to have a Lit. degree and I would have said this is simply an example of ‘sympathetic atmosphere’, but I couldn’t find an online cite to corroborate this guess, so I’m probably wrong. My degree was a looong time ago, and in any case I never learned anything at the time so how I ever passed the exams is a mystery to me. Seems like ‘pathetic fallacy’ is the current hot favourite, so I’d go with that.

AP English teacher here. You are definitly thinking of the pathetic fallacy.

That said, 90% of the terms that college board is so fond of putting on the tests are rarely used outside of the AP test: I never learned half of them until I started teaching AP, and certainly never came across them while working on my English degree (and I was a very good student, too.) So don’t worry so much about forgetting the terms. If you learned to read a piece of literature and convey sophisticated insights about that piece of literature, you got the best AP courses have to give.

John Ruskin coined the term, but it’s more of a description of a technique than an actual literary term as Ruskin originally applied it to art rather than literature. Ruskin’s Discussion of the Pathetic Fallacy.

My favorite book on literary terms is Figures of Speech: Sixty Ways to Turn a Phrase, by Arthur Quinn. It’s short, easy-going, and has a ton of examples, all in 100 pages. And you know what - it doesn’t even bother with the pathetic fallacy.

You can get it for twenty cents used. Treat yourself.

I know it was just a typo, but this made my day. :slight_smile:

I don’t know what good it is to add my opinion, but yes, it’s pathetic fallacy. The pathetic fallacy is used very commonly in film, especially in Hollywood movies where one expects nature to set the mood. It’s almost always overcast when something sad happens, stormy when something scary happens, sunny when something happy occurs, and it always snows on Christmas. The pathetic fallacy is called ‘pathetic’ because it represents nature expressing sympathy with the events occurring in the work, and it’s called a ‘fallacy’ because nature doesn’t really do this. (Imagine if it rained every time someone was heartbroken, or went outside without an umbrella.)

Therefore, I’m not sure if the pathetic fallacy should be included with legitimate literary devices or with common mistakes in literature. It’s very easy to invoke – ‘it was a dark and stormy night’ – but more astute readers and viewers might think it cliché if there’s always thunder when something dramatic happens. On the other hand, weather really can help set a scene, so it’s probably acceptable to use the pathetic fallacy on occasion, provided that you understand that it’s just a coincidence. People’s emotions can also be affected by the weather, by the season, and by the time of day, so it’s fine if someone is sad because it’s snowy and overcast. It’s not fine if it’s snowy and overcast because someone is sad.

Frau Blucher -ism

Sounds more like a variety of anthropomorphism to me.

And looking at that led to this very clear explanation of the fallacy.

Whinn-n-n-n-nie!