Fictional Creature Pronominalization – The Use of He/She/It in Reference to Zombies, Vampires, Fairies, and Trolls in Guillermo del Toro’s Literary Work


  • Linda Flores Ohlson Gothenburg University



pronominalization, fictional creatures, dehumanization, animacy


In this paper pronominalization is analyzed in reference to the fictional creatures in the literary work of Guillermo del Toro’ in order to study whether the choice of pronoun serves the function of expressing attitudes towards fictional creatures, such as zombies and vampires, in a way that makes the contexts and the characters’ subjective perceptions the dominant factors and consequently puts aside the semantic or grammatical status of the referent. The paper also investigates whether inanimate pronouns (it/its, which), are used in association with detached appraisal, callousness and dehumanization, and whether personal pronouns (he/his, she/her, and who/whom) are used with attachment, closeness and humanization. These two categories of pronouns (personal and inanimate) are normally distinct, i.e., in most contexts they cannot be used interchangeably. The study of the characteristics of fictional creature pronominalization can shed light on how we use pronouns in order to create creatures that exist only in our imagination, and how a variety of different attitudes towards them is expressed through this specific linguistic tool. In relation to del Toro’s zombies and vampires, it can be argued that the pronominalization serves a certain purpose in order to dehumanize them, differentiate the dead vampire/zombies from the living humans, and to point out the before and the after of the transition between life and death. The pronominalization in reference to fairies, although complicated and not completely consistent, shows a clear tendency towards a correlation between animal–like creatures and inanimate pronouns. In regards to del Toro’s trolls, the pronominalization follows a more consistent pattern, which clearly serves the function of expressing different kinds of attitudes towards the creatures such as detached appraisal and dehumanization, on the one hand, and friendship and alliance, on the other. 

Author Biography

Linda Flores Ohlson, Gothenburg University

Department of Languages and Literatures. 

Associate professor of Spanish.