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Copy of Finding Allusion in Writing

An introduction to literary allusion.

Melissa Lynch

on 8 January 2014

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Transcript of Copy of Finding Allusion in Writing

Allusion is when a writer references a place, person, or something that happened.
This can be real or imaginary
and may refer to anything,
including mythology, history
(event or well-known person),
other pieces of writing
(the Bible, Shakespeare, fairy tales)
or even movies or pop culture.
An allusion is like déjà vu –
if you notice it, it will seem like something you’ve heard about before.
When dad lost his job, mom became a Scrooge, and we almost never got to buy anything we didn’t absolutely need.

interpret (where does it come)

explain (what does it mean)
It comes from Charles Dickens'
"A Christmas Carol"
and it means that mom didn't
like to spend money.
He was so angry I expected him to turn green and tear his shirt to bits by flexing his bulging muscles.
interpret and explain
It comes from Marvel Comic's "The Hulk"
and it means the he was extremely angry.
She was a Good Samaritan yesterday when she helped the old man weed his garden.
interpret and explain
It comes from the Bible and it means that she chose to be very kind.
I’m full strength like a Cyclops‘s eye drops,
I got support like high-tops.
- Ugly Duckling, Left Behind.

“The side lines is lined with casualties
Who sip the life casually, then gradually become worse
Don’t bite the apple, Eve”

“Now who’s the boss? Not Tony Danza.”
-Malik B of the Roots

“Coming from the deep black like the Loch Ness,
now bring apocalypse like the Heart of Darkness.”
- Talib Kweli

“My rep grows like the nose of Pinocchio,
Just because I’ve mastered the art of braggadocio.”

“Tonedeff’s slays giants,
as if my legal name’s David.”
-Lets reader/viewer understand new information, characters, plot, setting, etc. by connecting it to something already known.
Allusion Confusion
Not the same as “ILLUSIONS”
In order to understand allusions, one must have a good grasp on “well-known” works of literature, art, music, pop culture, etc. So, if one is not well-read, it will be difficult to fully grasp why an author/writer/director uses an allusion.
Allusions are NOT references to someone/something only a small group of people know. So, don’t say, “Sally’s smile looked like my mom’s smile.” While this is a method of comparison, it is not to something well-known (outside of your community).
Whenever you come across an allusion, stop and ask yourself:

What does the writer want me to understand about this character, setting, plot, etc. by connecting it to something with which I am already familiar?

What is the author’s purpose in using this allusion?

To create the same feeling/mood as the original work?
For comedic effect?
To show character’s motives or traits?
Brainstorm with your shoulder partner other reasons authors might use an allusion.
Purpose of Allusions

Sally had a smile that rivaled
that of the
Mona Lisa.

Since everyone is familiar
with the painting, they can
imagine what Sally’s smile
looks like.

The makers of the Scream movie ALLUDED to Munch’s work of art “The Scream” in order to instill fear.
Full transcript