The Allusive Geeks
Throughout literary history, many books and novels have been written so perfectly, that it was almost impossible for it to go unnoticed. Many other authors will often use ideas or phrases from other literary works written before their time, creating a literary allusion. In the novel Geek Love, there are many allusions to speak of, from Shakespeare’s The Tempest to inspirations from the Jonestown Cults, to other Literary Works such as The Things They Carry, to The Iliad and even to Frankenstein. However, the direct allusions to the stories in The Tempest, are the most direct and easy to understand, if you have read the play. In the following, I will Allude to a few instances in which this literary allusion occurs in Geek Love, in accordance with The Tempest.
A major allusion from Geek Love that alludes to The Tempest occurs in a point in the story when Olympia (or Olly for short), is talking about her pregnancy with Miranda and the fact she did not have a name for her. The allusion to this part of the story occurs once Miranda is born into the world. It begins when Olympia is holding Miranda and examining her after the birth, and she notices nothing until she turns her over, where she sees an extra appendage, a tail. Olympia realizes that she is not the type of baby that Arty would appreciate, perhaps because she is not freakish enough, and this is where the allusion occurs. “She had Arty’s face and I named her Miranda because Miranda’s father loved her.” (Page 312, Geek Love). She obviously gives her this name because she just wants her daughters father to love her as his own, and this comes directly from The Tempest. In that story, Miranda is Duke Prospero’s beautiful daughter who is sheltered from society, and loved dearly by her father. This allusion is easy to pick out. These people are sheltered from society, and Olly just wants Arty to love Miranda as Prospero loved his daughter. However, if you have not read The Tempest, it would almost be impossible for you to pick up on this allusion. A lot of this novel comes from that play, so to the un-educated reader on this allusion, it is almost impossible to really understand a lot of the hidden keys to this novel. Its interesting to figure out the things the author really means by a lot of things, which makes allusion a very interesting literary term to be familiar with. Another interesting allusion which comes from The Tempest really turns out to be a phrase to think about during the entire novel, because it makes sense of a lot of things in the story. “This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine” (The Tempest, 5.1.275-6). This basically acknowledges the fact that all these people are something dark in the world, and are extremely different, but they accept the fact and roll with it. Arty, in particular, exceptionally fits this saying and lives it out through the whole novel. He is very manipulative, and uses it to his disadvantage to his advantage in making normal people with problems feel like they have somewhere they belong, creating a Cult of Arturism. He uses the fact that he is so confident yet so deformed to teach people that you can make the most of anything, including deformities, and still be successful. Allusions happen all over this novel, making it almost a walking allusion in literature, and making you want to dig deeper and deeper into its meaning.
One other allusion we have talked about in this class is the allusion of the morals learned from a short story we read, and its significance to another book/story that is commonly known around the world and United States. This is between tat of “The Courtship of Mr. Lyon” and Beauty and the Beast. The moral is that beauty is what’s on the inside, and not what’s on the outside. In both stories, the main male character are both ugly “beasts” and are courted by beautiful girls. After some time, the women realize their beauty on the inside and fall in love with them, alluding to this underlying morality that it’s only what’s inside that matters.
As you can see, allusion is a very active literary term in modern literature. If someone has already said it well once or has already set up an idea, why not use it and morph it into your own new, expanded idea and make yourself look good? You may not have known it before, but in literature, values and ideas are always used coincidently. Now you know there’s a name for it. Literary Allusion.