An allusion is a reference within a text to some person, place, or event outside the text. Allusions that refer to events more or less contemporary with the text are called topical allusions. Those referring to specific persons are called personal allusions. An example of a personal allusion is William Butler Yeat’s reference to “golden-thighed Pythagoras” in his poem “Among School Children”. Allusions may be used to summarize an important idea or point out a contrast between contemporary life and a heroic past. An example of this would be James Joyce’s classical parallels in “Ulysses” in which heroic deeds in the “Odyssey” are implicitly compared to the banal aspects of everyday life in Dublin. Allusions may also be used to summarize an important idea such as the concluding line from “King Kong”: “It was beauty killed the beast”.
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Last updated: 12/18/2017
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