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?
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).