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Before teaching allusions, make sure students understand what it is. They also need to know its strengths and weaknesses.
- Allusion - a figure of speech that makes a reference or representation of, or to, a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art.
- An allusion allows an author to make a powerful point without having to actually explain it.
- When using an allusion, the author assumes that the reader is familiar with the item being alluded to.
- An allusion is ineffective if the reader is not familiar with the item being alluded to.
- Publishers use footnotes or side notes to help modern readers understand allusions that may no longer be common knowledge.
- An "allusion" is not the same as an "illusion".
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Proper Teaching Tips
Teaching Frankenstein requires a knowledge of British Romanticism and selected writings. Familiarizing students with the period will make teaching Frankenstein and teaching allusions more effective.
- Read or summarize Rime of the Ancient Mariner By Coleridge. There are numerous allusions to it in the novel.
- Read or summarize the story of Zeus and Prometheus. The full title of the novel is Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus.
- Instruct students to copy the above information on allusions.
Make a chart on the board:
The chart should contain three columns with the following headers:
- Example of Allusion
- Explanation of the Allusion
- Purpose of the Allusion
- The chart should contain 5-10 rows.
- The chart should contain three columns with the following headers:
- Instruct students to find allusions from the novel and copy them down in column 1.
- Instruct students to explain the allusion in column 2.
- Instruct students to analyze the purpose of the allusion in column 3.
Have students write a paragraph or essay analyzing allusion. It can be a timed-writing assignment or a formal academic writing assignment.
- Why does Shelley make so many allusions to Rime of the Ancient Mariner?
- How does Shelley's use of allusions help you understand the loneliness of the monster?
- Compare Dr. Frankenstein to Prometheus.
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Check out the Frankenstein Study Guide on allusions for more ideas.
Teaching Allusion in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
These lessons will help you teach Mary Shelley's classic.