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by buiec
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Language Arts

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An allusion is a literary device that stimulates ideas, associations, and extra information in the reader's mind with only a word or two.Allusion means "reference" and relies on the reader being able to understand the allusion and being familiar with all of the meaning hidden behind the words.


Allusions help the reader visualize what's happening by evoking a mental picture.

Revelations 14:19The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath.

"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".

John Steinbeck chose this title as an allusion to Robert Burns’ poem “To a Mouse.” The poem specific states “The best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley” which means the plans we make often go awry. In Steinbeck’s novel, his two main characters rely heavily on their dreams of the future; this title foreshadows that these dreams will never see fruition in the novel.

William Faulkner uses an allusion from William Shakespeare to complete his title. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the title character states, in reaction to his wife’s death, that life is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/ signifying nothing.” This applies in a myriad of ways to Faulkner’s novel where one of the main characters, an autistic child named Benjy, begins the narration of the book. Faulkner even said himself that books must rely on universal truths otherwise they “signify nothing.”

John Steinbeck chooses another alliteration for his Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Grapes of Wrath. The book’s title is an allusion to Julia Ward Howe’s song “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” In this song, Howe declares in the first stanza “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored…” Howe’s lyric in itself is a Biblical allusion to Revelation which refers to “the great winepress of the wrath of God” which suggests the need for divine judgment and relief from oppression. Steinbeck is utilizing both these allusions to clarify the plight and possible future of destitute farmers during America’s Great Depression.


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