Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter A

 

 

 

is for Allusion

 

 

 

An allusion is a reference to a person, place or thing outside of the current text. It is assumed that the reader or viewer will recognize the reference and draw a deeper connection with the text.

Different types of allusions require different levels of critical thought in order to form connections. A simple allusion might be a casual reference to something from popular culture:

The plan was simple enough–bring the girls to the ancient Victorian, that Addams Family knock-off, scare the pants off them, be all “there, there” when the time was right, and then literally take the pants off them.

-from The Revenant

In this example, “Addams Family knock-off” connotes a dilapidated mansion with mansard-style roofs, quite possibly haunted, with a belfry, bats included.

A more complex allusion might be an extended metaphor that, when taken as a whole, paints a picture for the reader:

Zulu heard his watch mark off the time: tick…tick…tick. He fancied himself Captain Hook on the deck of the Jolly Roger, hearing the clock in the belly of the crock that took his hand. He stood upright, hands on hips, right foot on an overturned trash can. For a moment he was Hook. “He tasks me,” he whispered. “He tasks me and I shall have him.”

Wait, he thought. Wrong movie.

-from The Revenant

This allusion relies, not only on the reader’s knowledge of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, but also “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” While the reference to Pan is more of an explicit allusion as it identifies characters in the text, the reference to “Khan” is more subtle in that it doesn’t. Here the author is hoping her target audience has seen the movie, recognizes the quote, and makes the connection.

I leave you with one final allusion I wrote, just because I’m proud of it, from my I am, Was, Will be Alice YA novel:

“I’m not sick.”

“Paralyzing fear is a kind of sickness,” she says and just like that, we’re replaying the scene from The Big Bang Theory, the one where Sheldon is locked out of his house and spending the night at Penny’s, but he can’t sleep and Sheldon says he’s not sick and Penny says, “Homesickness is a kind of sickness.” Mom doesn’t disappoint–she asks if I want her to sing “Soft Kitty” to me. Or maybe she does disappoint, I mean, here I am, scared to frozen that if I go to school I will one day dematerialize in front of people in an imperceptible poof of air leaving behind nothing but my clothes (including my underwear) or even worse, rematerialize in front of the entire ninth grade population in the altogether, my privates on display, and all she can do is play out a corny scene from a stupid television show. I know she means well, to ease the tension in the room, but come on!

Feel free to share any allusions you’ve written or comments you have below.

We’re not in Storybrooke anymore!

If the Enchanted Forest is heavenly, Neverland is hellish. Sure there are ogres, evil witches, and dark wizards in the forest, but Snow White and Prince Charming keep them at bay and away from the castle and surrounding lands under their protection. There seems no similar safe haven in Neverland.

Once Upon A Time‘s Neverland is rife with shark-like mermaids that would as soon kill you as die themselves, a shadow wraith that steals souls, and Peter Pan, Neverland’s equivalent of the Dark One, and his sworn enemy. Claiming to be on the run from the Lost Boys who are after his vial of pixie dust, Peter gains Henry’s trust. When he learns Henry has the heart of a true believer, he reveals himself. Peter is now in possession of the body and heart of the true believer, a parallel to Rumplestiltskin’s possession of the Dark One’s dagger. I hope Henry gets to keep both to himself.

Meanwhile, back on the deck of the Jolly Roger, Emma and Snow pull a mermaid from the deep. The mermaid (could this be Ariel?) conjures a storm fuelled by the animus the crew has for each other. Fights ensue–Hook vs. Charming, Snow vs. Regina–and Emma realizes the storm can only be quelled when they agree to bury their respective hatchets. Emma nearly commits suicide jumping overboard; the crew works together to save her. When they arrive on shore, Emma proclaims herself their fearless leader and they go in search of Henry.

In the Enchanted Forest, Neal teams with Sleeping Beauty and Mulan on a quest to Rumplestiltskin’s castle to find an enchanted object that will help them contact Emma to let her know he’s still alive. Rumplestiltskin disappears from the deck of the Jolly Roger only to materialize in Neverland’s woods for a sit down with the head Lost Boy who throws a doll at him that reduces the Dark One to tears. Intriguing.

Season three’s opener was worth the wait. Not only does it turn the page on the old storyline (please forgive the pun), it sets up a chapter of new mysteries. What is the significance of the doll? Will Neal find his way back to Storybrooke? To Neverland? Is Rumplestiltskin really destined to die in Neverland? Are Neal and Tamara really dead? Will Emma and Hook ever get a room? Will Regina be content to assume the role of follower and to Emma, of all people? Do Neal and Mulan join Robin Hood’s band of Merry Men? Will there be any tie-ins between Wonderland and the Enchanted Forest? Between Wonderland and Storybrooke? Wonderland and Neverland? I’m certainly looking forward to finding out.

Weigh in on what you thought of the season première. Was it worth the wait?