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Northwest High School Media Center: English 9B Allusion Project

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Historical Allusion

Allusion:  noun

a passing or casual reference; an incidental mention of something, either directly or by implication

Allusion is 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. It is 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.

Why are allusions used?

"the use of allusions enables writers or poets to simplify complex ideas and emotions. The readers comprehend the complex ideas by comparing the emotions of the writer or poet to the references given by them."

Everyday Speech examples:

  • “This place is like a Garden of Eden.”  –This is a biblical allusion to the “garden of God” in the Book of Genesis.
  • “Hey! Guess who the new Newton of our school is?” – “Newton”, means a genius student, alludes to a famous scientist Isaac Newton.

Historical Allusion Example:

  • “I don't trust him, might as well call him Benedict Arnold.”  – This is a reference to the American general who joined British forces during the revolutionary war.





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