What is historical allusion?

Answer

An historical allusion is a literary device that relates a current circumstance to something similar that happened in the past. The use of this device is often apparent with metaphors and similes. Historical allusion is inserted as a casual aside and is not meant to be the central focus of a story.

The use of historical allusion allows an author to easily say a great deal about a current event by relating it to one that took place at some point in the past. Saying the two situations are similar or the same means they share characteristics of setting and events, thereby allowing the reader to assume that similar sociopolitical and financial climates are to be inferred on both situations.

Historical allusion relies on the concept that the reader and the writer are knowledgeable in the same facts. This literary device fails in written context in situations where the audience does not share the same understanding as the author.

Using an historical allusion allows a writer to relate both real and fictional events to something happening in a text. This often draws on famous characters and world occurrences to ensure the greatest audience saturation and ensure effective use of comparison between subjects.

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