Judging by a layman definition, pathetic fallacy will mean a falseful feeling of sympathy, pity or compassion which is portrayed naturally or artificially by something or anything. Example could be traced to the crocodile eyes that always seem crying.
Literary speaking, pathetic fallacy is one among the literary terms; and has been placed under the canopy of personification. According to wikidedia article, The origin of the name “pathetic fallacy” was traced to John Ruskin. Writers use pathetic fallacy to give feeling of sympathy or joy to an inanimate object(s) whereas a personification is a figure of speech or prosopopeia in which inanimate object is given any human quality.
In this figure of speech, we credit nature with human qualities. Here, it could be a commiseration with human beings in a state of grief or nature celebrating with human beings in a state of happiness. It is used to heighten the effect of a particular event.
Since personification can occur in any form of literature (poetry, prose, and drama); Pathetic Fallacy can occur in poetry, prose and drama as well but it takes the knowledge of the difference between personification and pathetic fallacy to figure out which one is which.
In the movie Odyssey, the storm had human face to speak with Odysseus was not just a mytery but a personification as well.
In the poem Elegy To A Dead Friend by Samuel C. Enunwa, has a pathetic fallacy in stanza 2:
“Didn’t you see
the emissaries of heavenly stars
paid condolence last night?
They wished you weren’t dead.”
image source fanpop
Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings high above all)