Wikipedia tells us that “The phrase pathetic fallacy is a literary term for the attributing of human emotion and conduct to all aspects within nature. It is a kind of personification that is found in poetic writing when, for example, clouds seem sullen, when leaves dance, when dogs laugh, or when rocks seem indifferent.”
I first came across the idea of it when I was studying Thomas Hardy for my A-levels; I think it’s something all of us recognize without realising when we read books where weather comes into play… certainly I have written about weather, and I gave an example yesterday when I was writing about fog.
Here is another example of where weather impacted on one of my stories. Although the effects are real and physical, the fog also is a metaphor for the muddle and confusion and sense of being lost and out of touch with reality that Deke is suffering following the death of her husband. She is on Farholm Island and she has gone up to the craft village and commune with Michael. He says something to upset her and she rushes out of a workshop in an old stable where they have been looking at jewellery, into the dense fog which has settled on the island:
Deke hobbled swiftly down the stable, flung open the door and rushed out into the fog, she would go back to the cafe and phone someone, anyone to rescue her, to take her back to her cottage and she would pack and run away. She blundered on and she heard Michael somewhere calling her, his voice oddly directionless in the obscurity. She came up against a wall and followed it, passing an unlit window and came to a door. She banged but there was no response, it wasn’t the cafe. Michael was still calling her name and then she heard other voices. Quite close at hand a woman said
“Who is it?”
“It’s me, Deke,” she answered because the voice sounded familiar.
“Where are you?”
Deke stumbled on to where the woman seemed to be. There was grass beneath her feet, she had strayed out of the confines of the village. She was very frightened. Something moved in the fog in front of her and thankfully she hurried towards it only to collide with a startled cow.
She turned and tried to go back the way she had come. She had no idea which way she was facing, towards the village or away and into the hidden wilderness.
“Where are you?” said the woman again.
She stumbled on and unexpectedly her crutch sunk into mud. She was on the edge of a pond, the pond she had seen in the photo of the children. She had staggered into the cow trampled ooze and she slithered and stuck, her crutches pushing down into the smelly slime.
“I’m by the pond,” she called, her voice sharp with panic and fear.
“Which side? Can you see across it?”
Deke looked across the dull grey water and could just make out a clump of reeds.
She was shoved violently and she slipped and fell with a great splash. She floundered and thrashed desperately as a foot pressed down on her back, between her shoulder blades.