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Example of Allusion

An allusion is a figure of speech or reference to a person, place, literary work, myth or other work of art directly or indirectly.

A very simple example would be:

'I am no Frank Sinatra.'

Sometimes confused with the term illusion, Allusion is the literary term that refers to a reference in a work of art from another work. For example, the show Family Guy often refers to other movies, music, literature or other. A very direct allusion reference can be seen in an episode of Family Guy, the Griffin Family children perform the 'So Long, Farewell' song from The Sound of Music.

Another example of an allusion would be 'His love of his children were his Achilles heel,' as this references the Greek Warrior Achilles, who could only be harmed by striking his heel because this is where his mother had held him when she dipped him in the River Styx. This means an Achilles heel reference means someone's weakness, or in the case of our example a weakness for one's children.

He felt like a dead man walking, as he trudged down the long corridor towards the principal's office.

As an avid gardener, Mary was determined to transform her backyard into her personal Garden of Eden.

Their love was destined to end in tragedy as they were star crossed lovers.

Actual Examples of Allusions

Barack Obama''s Humorous Allusions

''I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-el, to save the Planet Earth.''

(Senator Barack Obama, speech at a fund-raiser for Catholic charities, October 16, 2008)

The phrase ''Catch-22'' is an allusion from the novel of the same name Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. In the novel the term catch-22 refers to a rule that says an air pilots request to be relieved from duty can only be granted if it is determined they are legally insane. The catch is that no sane person would want to fly a dangerous mission, so there is no way to get be relieved of duty.

Today, ''catch-22'' commonly refers to any no-win situation or a situation in which any decision yields a bad result.

The classic Shakespeare play Romeo & Juliet is full of literary allusion, for example:
But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?

It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,

Who is already sick and pale with grief,

That thou her maid art far more fair than she. (Act 2 Scene 2)
http://www.k-state.edu/english/baker/english251/cc-allusion.htm
http://www.towson.edu/ows/allusion.htm

Image Example of Allusion:

Backside of a clay tablet from pylos bearing the motif of the Labyrinth, allusion to the mythological fight of theseus and the minotaur.

         


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