Allusion is a literary device or a figure of speech which is used to refer to an expression outlined to give a direct or indirect reference to a thing, place, person, or an event (mainly political, religious, cultural, or historical).
Not only writers make use of this literary device, but allusion is often used by people in their daily speech as well. It is just an expression which does not include any details of the passing reference. That is why; the readers must be knowledgeable enough to point out the allusion that has been used by the writer or the speaker.
For instance, if someone says ‘I was amazed when I saw him acting like a Romeo.’ it means that the speaker is referring to Romeo from Shakespeare’s tragedy ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ Romeo secretly loved Juliet and married her.
If a write does not have much knowledge about the political, religious, or historical events, then he/she does not be able to get the importance of that particular event used within a text.
Why Writers use Allusion?
Writers use allusions very cleverly to convey their desired meanings to the readers. This is the reason that the readers should be aware of every literary event because, most of the times, writers do use allusion indirectly.
As, authors love to describe something that has been passed away, that is why allusion is very much preferred by the writers to write down their old memories in a secret manner.
Other than the above discussion, the use of allusion can make a text rich. It means that readers enjoy a content that is rich in referencing. If a reader is reading a story and there comes an allusion, then the reader would get much more indulged in the story by thinking another referenced story, which has been passed away. For instance, if a writer is describing something good and bad, he/she can relate the story to Adam and Eve. By alluding to Adam and Eve, the readers will automatically get an idea about what the writer is trying to convey his thoughts about good and evil.
Sometimes, writers want to challenge their readers by giving many references in literature to make their writings more complex. So, if you are not a knowledgeable writer so; there is an advice for you to start doing a great study and research and solve your writers’ puzzles.
A Few Famous Allusions used in Literature
1. ‘All night the dread less Angel unpursu’d…’
The above example sentence is taken from Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’, in which ‘dread less Angel’ is allusion which is a reference to a fearless angel named ‘Abdiel’.
2. ‘The little cage of ‘Currer Bell’ / In quiet ‘Haworth’ laid.’
The above example sentence is taken from Emily Dickinson’s poem ‘All Overgrown by Cunning Moss, in which ‘Currer Bell’ is a direct reference to a writer named ‘Charlotte Bronte’.
3. ‘Where, sitting in a chariot burning bright…’
The above example sentence is taken from Marlowe’s ‘Doctor Faustus’, in which ‘Chariot burning bright’ is referring to ‘god Apollo’. According to a Greek myth, god Apollo drives the sun in his chariot.
It is concluded that allusion is an expression typically used to give reference, either direct or indirect, to a place, thing, person, or an event. Readers should be knowledgeable enough to point out an allusion cleverly used by the writers.