How To Read Literature Like A Professor Essay

1020 Words5 Pages
Julia Hunnell
Mrs. Mary Smith
AP Literature 6
21 September 2017
What Are You Alluding To?
In Thomas Foster’s book, “How to Read Literature Like a Professor,” readers learn how to look past the surface of a literary work to find a deeper or hidden meaning. Writers use devices, such as symbolism, imagery, foreshadowing, irony and allusion to reveal these meanings. If these are overlooked, important aspects of the story can be lost. One literary device that Foster emphasizes in his book is allusion. Every story has elements of another story, and Foster devotes Chapters Four through Seven explaining the meaning of allusion in works by Shakespeare, the Bible, and fairy tales.
In Chapter Four, Foster introduces the idea of allusion.
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This connection to other works makes “our understanding of both works [become] richer and deeper.”
Probably one of the most well-known books in the Western world is the Bible. There is a copy in many hotel drawers and almost every person has a general understanding of what the Bible says. The allusions that can come from the Bible, mentioned in Chapter Six, are almost endless, such as the garden, the devil, a Christ figure, great flood, seven days, 40 years, a betrayal, resurrection. Literary characters are given biblical names like Rebecca, Esther, and Jacob. Names are important in literature. They need to “carry whatever message the writer want[s] to convey about the character or the story.” If you come across a biblical name, pay close attention because it could be pointing you to something bigger. Foster also says that if a story is trying to allude to the Bible, it will “seem to be beyond the scope of the story’s or poem’s immediate dimensions.” In the story “Sonny’s Blues,” a character has a cup, like the cup of God’s fury. This is meant in the context of Sonny, who has been to jail and has had drug problems. The cup that he drinks from is representative of him straying from the straight and narrow path and possibly going back into his addictive behaviors. The cup also represents that the whole of America has drunk from the cup and could
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