Northrop Frye establishes that literature is based on conventions in his lecture The Singing School. As a result, he says that there is no better way to communicate a literary concept than by using conventional literary characters and ideas. Allusion is the reference to a person, place or concept in literature or real life. It is used as a literary tool to create a better image of the idea that the author is trying to convey. "There was a shout about my ears, and palms before my feet."1 This line from G.K. Chesterton's The Donkey alludes to Palm Sunday. Without an understanding of the allusion, readers cannot get an understanding of the poem. Allusion can also be found in music. In the song Diamonds of the Sierra Leone,' rapper Jay-Z says, "I had to get off the boat to walk on water." This is an allusion to Jesus Christ that Jay-Z uses to portray himself as being immortal in music.
Allegory is the use of images and objects from the world as symbols. George Orwell's Animal Farm is allegorical in nature. The plot revolves around a group of animals on a farm who denounce humans and run the farm themselves, only to end up in a totalitarian state of government. The book is a satire of communism and is a good example of allegory. Frye uses this lecture to reinforce the idea that literature immortalizes characters and is conventional in nature. Also, he stresses the importance of imagination in literature and the importance of the imaginative nature of literature. "The world of imagination is a world of unborn or embryonic beliefs; if you believe what you read in literature, you can, quite literally, believe anything."3 In understanding the imaginative quality in literary works and the ideas behind them, allegory and allusion play an important role to the reader.
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