An allusion is a reference to an object, person, or event from another literary
work, history, society, etc., that the reader is expected to understand.
An allusion is one way that writers can infuse a literary work with description and
elaboration without having to use more than one or two words. The allusion will also
help determine the tone of the writing.
For example, one place that most people in our culture can identify and explain is
Eden. If a writer refers to a place as Eden, the reader understands through the Biblical
allusion the setting the writer is trying to create. Therefore, the one word Eden helps
the reader to understand the type of setting and also the writer's attitude toward that
setting. On the contrary, referring to a place as Hades, a mythological allusion would
conjure up quite a different image for the reader and create a much different tone.
1. As I watched my mother sitting beside Uncle Aaron, a fresh pang of hurt stabbed
my heart, and I remembered once again how Hamlet must’ve felt...”
2. It has been very difficult for me to land the job of my dreams to become a teacher.
Sometimes I feel like I have a huge stamp on my forehead that says ‘Don Quixote’.
3. The teacher stood in her doorway, a siren beckoning in the new students.
4. It was no Tara, but it was a nice house.
5. As the cave’s roof collapsed, he was swallowed up in the dust like Jonah, and only
his frantic scrabbling behind a wall of rock indicated that there was anyone still alive.
6. Her hands are as clean as Lady MacBeth's.
7. My mother-in-law would easily blend in at a Gorgon reunion.
8. Marty's presence at the dance was definitely a “Catch 22” situation; if he talked to
Cindy she'd be mad at him, but if he ignored her there'd be hell to pay. His anger
bubbled to the surface. He realized that by coming to the dance he had brought his
problems with him like a Trojan Horse, and he could only hope he would be able to
keep them bottled up. (2 here)
9. He was a remarkable Prime Minister; we had not yet identified his clay feet.
10. Sue did not want to endure Eve’s curse and opted for the epidural.
11. He ran down the alleys as the many shadows stalked him. Forced to turn a corner,
he found himself faced with more horrors. No amount of Falstaff wit could save him
12. The Job’s comforters told Matilda not to worry about her grounding since there
weren’t any parties she would be missing on the weekend.
13. The final game was John’s Waterloo.
14. Frightened and alone, Stephan wandered into the woods - the Brobdingnagian
branches looming over his head.
15. Like the prodigal son, he returned to Silvana without recourse.
16. His life was a Horatio Alger story.
17. The killer wore a mask of Cain as he stalked his victim through the dark night.
18. Let him fix his own cocoa; you don’t need to indulge his Peter Pan syndrome.
19. She’s such a Pollyanna,” grumbled Many Anne, “she thinks the IRS auditor is
calling to make sure they don’t owe her any money.”
20. She was almost ready to go, standing before the hall mirror, putting on her hat,
and he, his hands behind him, appeared pinned to the door frame, waiting like Saint
Sebastian for the arrows to begin piercing him. ~Flannery O’Connor
21. Everything was going well until your sister Diane, a true Benedict Arnold, gave
your notebook to the other team.
22. The Svengali behind the reality TV show locked the newly crowned winner into
an unfairly restrictive contract.
23. Oliver intended to break the Gordian knot of team dissention by hosting a pizza
party before the game on Friday.
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