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Allusion

Lesson on Allusion with various examples.
by

Alisha Adams

on 29 September 2015

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Transcript of Allusion

Thursday
September 10, 2015
Allusion
The "smart people" inside jokes of Literature, Film, and Music.
A brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, literary or political significance.

It does not describe in detail the person or thing to which it refers.

Just a passing comment and the writer expects the reader to possess enough knowledge to spot the allusion and grasp its importance in a text.

If you don't pick up on the "inside joke" you're missing layers of meaning.
Definition of Allusion
Allusions to Shakeseare in Media
The Lion King - Hamlet
Clueless - Emma
What Dreams May come - Hamlet
Aladdin - Iago the parrot - Othello
The Little Mermaid - King Triton - Greek Mythology's Poseidon
10 Things I Hate About you - The Taming of the Shrew & Sonnet 137
She's the Man - The Twelfth Night
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
Can you guess the allusion?
Allusion can also be found in Science
The moons of the planet Uranus
Ariel – The Tempest
Miranda – The Tempest
Desdemona - Othello
Cordelia – King Lear
Puck – Midsummer Night’s Dream
King Oberon – Midsummer Night’s Dream
Bianca – Taming of the Shrew
Portia – Merchant of Venice
Why allusion? What does it do to the meaning in a text?
Let's review...
Allusion is a literary device that refers to something the reader "should" already know.
This allows the author to use that knowledge to add greater meaning to what he is saying without long explanations.
Example: John walked into the classroom like Jack Sparrow.
Allusions to Shakespeare are the most common in Media & Literature.
Biblical Allusions
References a well-known person or event that takes place in the Bible.
Shakespeare would have studied the Bible as a "textbook" in school.
He participated in small "moral" or "Miracle" plays depicting stories and lesson from the Bible.
This is how the Elizabethans learned about the Bible, since the common people did not have copies of their own and those that did had them in Latin.
Biblical Allusions - Example #1
"Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,
The seasons' difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind..."
As You Like It, Act 2 scene 1

This refers to the consequences of the original sin of Adam.
Roman 5: 12-14
Biblical Allusion - Example #2
"Erroneous vassal! the great King of kings
Hath in the tables of his law commanded
That thou shalt do no murder: and wilt thou, then,
Spurn at His edict and fulfill a man's?
Take heed; for He holds vengeance in His hands,
To hurl upon their heads that break His law."
Richard III, Act 1, Scene 4

Refers to the judgment throne of Jesus, the King of Kings, and to the sixth commandment prohibiting murder.
Revelation 19:11-16, Exodus 20:2–17
Biblical Allusion - Example #3
"O, my offence is rank it smells to heaven;
It hath the primal eldest curse upon't,
A brother's murder."
Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 3

Refers to the slaying of Abel by Cain, his brother.
Genesis 4:10-11
Greek & Roman Mythology Allusions
Shakespeare references the stories from Greek and Roman mythology often because these would also have been common knowledge.
Students studied these myths and characters in school.
The stories were told to them as children in the form of fairytales.
Even the uneducated would have been familiar with them.
The myths would also have been performed as plays.

Mythology Allusions - Example 1
"Look here, upon this picture, and on this,
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
See, what a grace was seated on this brow;
Hyperion's curls; the front of Jove himself;
An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;
A station like the herald Mercury
New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill;
A combination and a form indeed,
Where every god did seem to set his seal,
To give the world assurance of a man:
This was your husband. Look you now, what follows:
Here is your husband; like a mildew'd ear,
Blasting his wholesome brother."
Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4
Comparing Hamlet’s father to his uncle, both whom his mother has married. Hamlet’s father is presented as the best characteristics of the gods. He has Hyperion’s curls, the front of Jove, an eye like Mars, and a station like Mercury. Hyperion was one of the Titans. Jove was the king of gods. Mars was the god of war. Mercury is the messenger of the gods. Hamlet’s uncle, who murdered Hamlet’s father, is the opposite, a mildew’d ear.
Allusions in Romeo & Juliet
Example #1
“It is written that the shoemaker should meddle with his yard and the tailor with his last, the fisher with his pencil and the painter with his nets”
Romeo and Juliet Act 1 scene 2 lines 39-40

The servant is quoting mixed-up Biblical proverbs.
He’s trying to say that people should attend to what they do best.
This demonstrates the servant’s lack of knowledge.
Allusions in Romeo & Juliet
Example #2
“’Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia’s brow.”
Romeo and Juliet Act 3 scene 5 line 20
Cynthia is another name for Artemis—the Greek god of the hunt and the moonlight.
Romeo is saying that he wants to pretend the sunrise is the moonrise so he can have more time with Juliet
Allusion in Romeo & Juliet
Example #3
Do this one on your index card. This will be your exit ticket from class.
Don't forget your Name, Date, & Period across the top of the card.
“Well, in that hit you miss. She’ll not be hit with Cupid’s arrow…From Love’s weak childish bow she lives uncharmed.”
Act 1 scene 1 lines 209-212

“You are a lover. Borrow Cupid’s wings and soar with them above a common bound... Mercutio
Act 1 scene 4 lines 17-18
Answer the following:
1. Write down if this is a Biblical or Mythological Allusion.
2. What is it an allusion to?
3. What additional meaning is the author
making with this allusion?
What does Willy Wonka's ability to quote Shakespeare reveal to us about him as a character?
This is an allusion to "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Hester Prynne is found to have committed adultery and is forced to wear a scarlet "A" to mark her as having sinned. She is taken with child but what everyone doesn't know is that the local Reverend is the one who she committed adultery with.

This is a reference to an event, the Salem Witch Trials.

Why would the company Miracle Whip use references to the Scarlet Letter & the Salem Witch Trial references (both negative ideas) to sell their product? What layer of meaning are they trying to show us?
Allusions can be found in Music
Jay-z's "Magna Carta - Holy Grail" - story of the Holy Grail and the signing of the Magna Carta
Kanye West's Yeezus -
Both have songs referencing a poem called "Strange Fruit"
Demi Lovato's "Heart Attack" - Iccarus flying too close to the sun
Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Scaramuccia the Italian farce stock character from Italian operas
Led Zepplin's "Ramble On", "Misty Mountain Hop", "The Battle of Evermore", "No Quarter" - Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit
My Chemical Romance's "Our Lady of Sorrows" - References the star-crossed lovers from Romeo & Juliet
A few more funny examples:
Modern Text Examples
a. Write down what the reference or allusion is.

b. Write down why the author would use this reference and/or what the "hidden" layer of meaning is.
Items Needed
1. Writing utensil
2. Week 4 Mustang Minutes
3. Super Grammar Notes
4. Figurative Language
5. Cellphone
6. "Romeo & Juliet" book
Mustang Minute
You will be watching a video when the bell rings and then answering the following questions:
What did you learn about Shakespearean insults and language?
How could we apply this knowledge as we begin our own reading of Shakespeare's work?
What did you learn about Shakespearean insults and language?
How could we apply this knowledge as we begin our own reading of Shakespeare's work?
Purpose of Allusion
Authors use allusions intentionally, though it is the reader’s responsibility to understand the reference.
Allusions can create meaning in a work that is lost if the reader doesn’t grasp the reference. allusions can be a test of a sort of cultural literacy.
It is thus also much more difficult for modern readers to understand all of the allusions in older works of literature, or literature from other cultures. (Footnotes)
HOWEVER....
Shakespeare would not have alluded to himself.
Biblical Allusions
Mythological Allusions
Specifically the Roman & Greek myths
Allusions to Mythology = dreamlike and magical touch to the works of art.
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