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I am writing a paper on "The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" and I need to include an allusion in my introduction paragraph. Can my allusion be a direct quote from Nelson Mandela that highlights a theme similar to the one I am going to discuss in my paper? Or is a direct quote too specific to be an allusion?

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Hi Lee; I suspect it'll be hard to get a better answer than "ask your teacher" - you're trying to understand the nuances of a specific assignment. But perhaps essayists will have more to say on the topic - hope this question helps you out :) –  Standback Nov 24 '13 at 19:51
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Anything can qualify as allusion. The caveat is, it must go smoothly with the main theme, and contain another, veiled message; it must have a simple main theme, which is different from the theme it alludes to. So, if your quote teaches us two different things, and your introduction is about one of them, it will allude to the other one.

You can't just drop a quote alone. You must have the quote relate directly, simply to paragraph it's included in, and simultaneously contain an allusion to whatever subject to which you wish to allude (different from the theme of that paragraph).

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What SF said -- this is not an allusion: "'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world". This quote ABOUT Mandela is an allusion to the life of Fredrick Douglass: "During my research for the film I found out that the autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley was one of the books that kept Nelson Mandela going in his many years of imprisonment, so I got the idea that we could have Nelson be in the last scene of the film. The last line of the speech was: ‘By any means necessary’, and Nelson told me: ‘Spike, I can’t say that. I cannot say “by any means necessary”." –  lonstar Jan 10 at 20:34
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