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Friday, August 27, 2021

Literary terms – Allusion

Literary terms,Allusion,Out, Out—,a tale/Told by an idiot,Out, out, brief candle!

Literary terms – Allusion

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A passing reference to historical or fictional CHARACTERS, places, or events, or to other works that the writer assumes the reader will recognize. Allusions to the Bible and to William Shakespeare's works are common because both enjoy a vast readership. Older LITERATURE contains many allusions to Greek and Roman literature, which formerly played an important role in education.

Allusions may refer to mythology, religion, literature, history, or art. Their power lies in suggestion and CONNOTATION.

They serve to evoke emotions, convey information concisely, and establish character, MOOD, and SETTING. Often in POETRY, an allusion may be central to the reader's understanding and response.

"Out, Out—" is a poem by Robert Frost about the accidental death of a young boy. Its THEME is the unpredictability of life, the waste of premature death. Frost's title is an allusion to the key phrase of a famous speech in Act V, scene 5, of Macbeth: "Out, out, brief candle!” Frost's brief allusion evokes the SCENE in which Macbeth mourns the death of his wife and the brevity, uncertainty, and the meaninglessness of life:


She should have died hereafter;

There would have been time for such a word.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time,

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more; it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.


William Faulkner alludes to this same passage in the title of his NOVEL The Sound and the Fury, part of which is "a tale/Told by an idiot.”

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