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An allusion is a reference to a past peice of literature. An allusion is used to summerize broad complex
ideas or emotions in one quick powerful image. It also serves as an important function in writing in that they allow the reader to understand a difficult concept by relating to an already familiar story. William Shakespeare uses many allusions in his play The Tradgedy of Romeo and Juliet.
One allusion in the story was when Juliet said "Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,"(1.III.ii.). This allusion goes back to Shakespeare's favorite book ,which was Metamorphoses, by the Roman poet Ovid (43 B.C.-17 A.D.). Shakespeare learned the story of Phaeton from this collection of classical myths. In the book Ovid described Apollo's (Phoebus') horses as "fiery-footed" and Ph
aethon as a "wagoner."

Another example of an allusion is when Juliet thinks that Romeo and Tybalt are dead. she says "Then, dreadful trumpet, sound the general doom!"(IIIii67). This shows Shakespeare knowledge of the bible because this is an allusion to it. Juliet is reffering to I Corinthians, 15:52. This came from the Geneva Bible which was very popular in his time. The King James version was not around until later in his life. Somew peoplew think he assisted in the making of psalm in the King James Bible.
Geneva Bible
Geneva Bible

An example of allusion is when Paris cannot be happy of is upcomming marriage because he is still grieving on Tybalt's death. He says ,"Venus smiles not in a house of tears"( IV.i.8). the allusion goes back to ancient greek mythology with Venus the sun Goddess.

Shakespeare uses once again another allusion to ancient greek mythology. "Petrarch flowed in: Laura, to his lady, was but a kitchen/ wench,- marry, she had a better love to be-rhyme her: Dido, a/ dowdy;Cleopatra, a gypsy; Helen and Hero, hidlings and/ harlots; Thibse, a grey eye or so, but not to the purpose,----/ Signior Romeo, bon jour! There's a French/ saltuation to your French slop. You gave us the conterfeit/ fairly last night."(IIiv35-43)
This is an allusion to Greek mythology because all of the women in those stories kills themselves for their man. Not only is this an allusion it is also foreshadowing because at the end of the story Juliet commits suicide when she finds Romeo dead.

Near the beginning of the story William Shakespeare uses more greek myths for his writings. "Thou mayst prove false; at lovers' perjuries"(IIii92) is the line used to state the Greek words. Jove (Zeus in Greek mythology) had a good reason to laugh at loves perjuries. He was infamous for his own romantic mischief. While married to Juno he still slept with many other women including mortals. He would often seduce then by acting as a symbol of something a women would want.

Zeus God of Gods

Later in the story Juliet relates an ancient bird dating to approximately the 8th century B.C . During Shakespeare time this bird was really popular. You see this by the way Juliet tells Romeo to "Hist! Romeo, hist! -- O for a falconer's voice"(IIii160).It was so popular that the goverment at that time had laws on which social class could have one and which one would not be able to purchase one to own.

Shakespeare uses "Dry up your tears, and stick your rosemary on this fair corse:"(IV.v.81-82) as a an allusion. It is a reference to Rosemary. Rosemary for thousands of years it was considered the herb of love and remembrance. So it was displaced at both weddings and funerals. It said that if a young women put rosemary under her pillow, she would dream of her future husband. It was also place on graves and sometimes used to communicate with the dead.

Another example of a allusion is when Juliet said " Some say the lark and loathed toad change eyes;"(III.v.32). This allusion refers back in Shakespeare's time, the lark eyes were so to be ugly, the toad's eyes beautiful. So the lark and the toad were thought to have changed eyes. The toads head was also said to contain a "toadstone"-a precious object which could be worn as a charm.
Toad Charm
Toad Charm

But Why?

Shakespeare used allusion to create more than sentences but ones that had historical or religious reference that one could see after first notice. Shakespeare used this impressive style of writing to spice up his plays and add themes in the past that can play a big picture in the present. Allusion as changed writing in a way that show the significance of writing, to make it not just a play but an extraordinary one.


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Picture of Phaethon is from:
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