Definition Allusion: an indirect and usually brief reference to a person, place, or event. This reference is probably explicit, but its meaning can be understood only if the person, place, or event is well known by all or known by the reader. An allusion can help the reader develop their understanding of the text.
Purpose We, as readers, need to know what allusions are so we can identify them in our reading. We need to be able to recognize allusions in the books we read because they are usually important in our overall understanding of the book. For example, if the name of a character was an allusion to a different character in another literary work, that similarity could reveal something about the character that we wouldn’t have known if we hadn’t found the allusion.
For Example: If you were trying to instill confidence in a friend and said, “Use the force,” that would be an allusion to the text Stars Wars.
How about this phrase… It’s elementary my dear Watson! It is an allusion to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
Allusions… can be made to a book, a song, movie, or a poem. Even visual allusions can be made to art or film. Movies that are parodies are filled with allusions. Comedians rely on allusions. They allude to current events in a humorous matter. Comedians rely on allusions
Writers often make allusions to Greek Myths in a text. Myths are ancient stories about gods and heroes. Many words used as allusions come from the names in the myths.
Hercules Let’s read his story!
Hercules… was the strongest man in the world. The Greek half-god had to perform 12 tasks so difficult that they seemed impossible. By the end of these tasks, he was a hero to the people.
Allusions to Hercules… He had many Herculean tasks ahead of him. Meaning—tasks that seem impossible
Superman’s Herculean strength made it easy for him hold the world in his hands. An Allusion
Allusions to Hercules… The weight lifter used his Herculean strength to lift the 200 pound weight. Meaning—very strong
Achilles Heel “Perimeter shooting has been Louisville’s Achilles heel all season.”
Achilles Let’s read his story!
Achilles… was a great warrior. When he was a baby, his mother dipped him in a magical river. Where ever the water touched him, he could not be harmed. But his mother held him by his heel, so that was his one weakness. He was defeated when an enemy struck his heel.
Allusions to Achilles… “I can’t read your answer because of your messy handwriting!” the teacher said. “Neatness has always been my Achilles heel!” replied the student. Meaning—someone’s Achilles heel means his or her area of weakness
Odysseus or the Odyssey Honda Odyssey
Odysseus or the Odyssey Let’s read his story!
Odysseus… was a Greek king who went to war against the Trojans. During the war, he hid his men inside a large wooden horse. Then he gave the horse to the Trojans as a gift. The Trojans brought the horse inside the city walls. That night, the Greeks attacked. The Odyssey is a very long poem about Odysseus’s long journey home after the Trojan war.
Allusions to Odyssey/Odysseus… The family set out on their 24 hour odyssey to Florida for vacation. Meaning—any long trip or adventure
The Trojan Horse
Let’s read his story!
The Trojan Horse… was the large, wooden horse that Odysseus sent as a gift to the Trojans. The Greek warriors were hiding inside. The Trojans brought the horse inside the city walls. That night, the Greeks attacked and won the war.
Allusions to a Trojan Horse… “Try some of the casserole,” Mom begged Bryan, but Bryan was afraid it was a Trojan horse. Meaning—something that wasn’t quite what it seemed
Let’s read his story!
Allusions to Sisyphus For Henry, cleaning his room was a Sisyphean chore. Meaning—a job that never ends
Pandora Let’s read her story!
Pandora… was a woman who opened a box to see what was inside. She let out all the evils of the world. Pandora’s simple act had terrible effects she didn’t expect.
Allusions to Pandora… “Don’t worry about your homework. Let’s go see a movie,” Allison persuaded Holly. But Holly had a feeling inside that blowing off her homework might be like opening Pandora’s box. Meaning—a tempting opportunity that could be disastrous; something that leads to a lot of unexpected trouble
King Midas http://www.youtube.com/watc h?v=CL9dkQq-9os Let’s read his story!
King Midas… had the power to turn everything he touched into gold.
Allusions to King Midas … Ron got a 100% on his Spelling test at school, had persuaded his sister to take his turn doing the dishes, and had just beat the 7 th level of Mario Brothers on the wii. “Today I have the Midas touch!” he proclaimed. Meaning—whatever he or she does turns out well
Nemesis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9faYaGdLS4 Let’s read her story!
Allusions to Nemesis… The New England Patriots are hoping to go to the Super Bowl this year, especially since their biggest nemesis (the Colts) will not be going. Meaning—an enemy; something you are not able to overcome
Cupid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNDmeLBljME http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNDmeLBljME http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNDmeLBljME http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNDmeLBljME Let’s read his story!
Allusions to Cupid I passed a note to Sally to tell her that Brad really liked her. When the teacher found the note, she opened it and read it. She told me there was no need to be playing Cupid, since we were not allowed to have boyfriends or girlfriends in 4 th grade. Meaning—To play matchmaker My mom looked like she had been hit by Cupid’s arrow, when my dad walked in with a large bouquet of flowers. Meaning—to fall in love