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An allusion is an a reference or mention of person, event, statement, piece of art, history, myths, religion, or popular culture. The reference is usually indirect within the writing. Since the person, place, or thing is not mentioned directly, it is assumed that the reader already has knowledge of what is being referenced. Therefore, an allusion is when a piece of writing tries to hint at a person, place, thing, literature, or art. An allusion is when we hint at something and expect the other person to understand what we are referencing.
Chocolate is his Kryptonite.
In the this example, the word “kryptonite” alludes to, or hints at, the hero Superman. The classic comic book and movie hero Superman has a weakness, and that weakness is Kryptonite. The individual in this example really enjoys chocolate–it is his weakness. The example works because we know that Superman, who is being referenced here, has the weakness of Kryptonite. We then understand, by knowing about Superman, that chocolate is this person’s weakness.
Sometimes allusions are broad enough that everyone can understand, but sometimes author’s use them so that only a few catch them. Allusions work because they carry meaning and understanding that is meant to give more power and meaning to a statement. In the previous example, instead of simply stating that the person likes chocolate, comparing chocolate to Superman’s weakness gives the statement more power and meaning. The chocolate now holds more significance, almost as if the chocolate holds more power over the person.
The most common allusions are to literary classics, such as Greek mythology or famous novels, and popular culture, like famous movies and popular songs. Allusions can occur in everyday life, especially when we reference movie quotes or song lyrics to our friends in personal situations and shared experiences. For instance, when you try something new or travel to a new location, you may say, “Looks like we aren’t in Kansas anymore.” This is an allusion to the famous musical The Wizard of Oz. Most of the time we naturally make allusions to movies, books, and music, but we just do not recognize it as an allusion.
An allusion that references something outside of the text or situation, it is called an external allusion. This is making a reference to The Wizard of Oz when you go somewhere new. Authors, however, can make references to something that has already occurred in the book. This is an internal allusion. For instance, if an author hints at something that has already happened at the beginning of the book, it is an internal allusion.
The following statements are alluding to famous movies, music, literature, or events. Try to find the allusion:
- She acts like Scrooge with her money and will not buy anything if she does not need it.
- Alludes to A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- I met a man who was romantic and a true Romeo.
- Alludes to Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
- Things became hard in her life, but she just kept swimming.
- Alludes to Dory in Finding Nemo
- I know things may seem hard, but all you need is love
- Alludes to “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles
Examples of Allusions in Literature
From ““Sonnet. To a Young Lady Who Sent me a Laurel Crown” by John Keats:
“In the Sun’s eye, and ‘gainst my temples press
Apollo’s very leaves, woven to bless”
John Keats alludes to the story of Apollo, Cupid, and Daphne. Apollo is shot by Cupid’s arrow and falls in love with Daphne, who later turns into a laurel tree. Keats alludes to the pride, victory, and chase that occurs in the story of Apollo and Daphne.
From J. K. Rowling’s series Harry Potter:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Many of the names in the Harry Potter universe are adapted from Greek myths or Arthurian Legend. The Sorcerer’s Stone is taken from the myth of the Philosopher’s Stone, which was believed to turn metals into gold and could give immortality to humans.
This bundle contains 5 ready-to-use allusion worksheets that are perfect to test student knowledge and understanding of what allusion is and how it can be used. You can use these allusion worksheets in the classroom with students, or with home schooled children as well.
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Link will appear as Allusion Examples and Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, July 8, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.