Allusions are references to other pieces of literature or historical events. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, is full of allusions to various books, people, and events. In this essay, I will discuss three specific allusions and what they contribute to the overall story.
The first allusion is to the Bible. The Invisible Man is constantly referred to as “the creature,” which is a direct reference to Adam in the Bible. Just as Adam was created by God, the Invisible Man is created by Mr. Norton. Additionally, both Adam and the Invisible Man are forced to live in isolation. The second allusion is to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
The Invisible Man is chased by a group of white men who represent characters from Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Mr. Norton is Simon Legree, the white man who owns Uncle Tom. The men chasing the Invisible Man are all representatives of the different characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Lastly, the third allusion is to Oedipus Rex.
The Invisible Man is blindfolded throughout most of the novel, which is a reference to Oedipus Rex. Oedipus was blinded by fate and could not see what was happening around him. Similarly, the Invisible Man is blindfolded and cannot see the truth about Mr. Norton and Brotherhood. Each of these allusions helps to flesh out the story and provide more context for the events that occur.
The Invisible Man, written by Ralph Waldo Ellison with brilliance and inventiveness, is a work of art in itself, but it also incorporates allusions to preceding masterpieces on almost every page. It creates a stunning work of literature whether it was Ellison who inserted the works into his own or others who added his writings to their own. The character of the Invisible Man is defined through allusions to literary texts, biblical tales, and historical events.
One such allusion is the Invisible Man’s unnamed grandfather’s famous last words, “I yam what I yam, and that’s all that I yam.” This is a quote from Popeye the Sailor Man, a popular cartoon character in the early 1900s. The Invisible Man’s grandfather speaks these words with such conviction that they become his own personal mantra, something he lives by throughout his life.
Another allusion can be found in the way Ellison uses light and darkness to represent different things at different times. For example, when the Invisible Man is first introduced, he is described as being “invisible” because of the layer of grime covering his body. In this instance, the darkness represents the Invisible Man’s invisibility to society. However, later on in the novel, when the Invisible Man is forced to flee from the police and takes refuge in a coal cellar, the darkness takes on a different meaning. In this case, it represents the Invisible Man’s physical and emotional isolation from the world.
Perhaps one of the most interesting allusions in Invisible Man is the way Ellison borrows from the story of Oedipus Rex. Like Oedipus, the Invisible Man is a man who is blind to the truth about himself and his place in society. Like Oedipus, he also tries to run away from his problems instead of facing them head-on. And, like Oedipus, the Invisible Man ultimately suffers a tragic downfall.
These are just a few examples of the allusions that can be found in Invisible Man. Ellison’s use of allusions helps to flesh out the characters and story, and provides readers with a richer understanding of the novel as a whole.
Invisibility contains two allusions to Homer’s “Odyssey.” The first is seen during the Battle Royal. The greek siren that freezes IM with her beauty at the Battle Royal is a seductive dancer who poses as a greek siren. The blind Reverend, who appears in Chapter 9 of the novella, is portrayed as Odysseus himself who had been blinded by Athena when she helped him escape from Calypso’s island (1929).
Homer A. Barbee, who is known as the “wandering darkie”. Homer Barron in the “Odyssey” is also blind and known for his singing ability. These references to the “Odyssey” help to further develop the Invisible Man’s character and journey.
Other allusions in Invisible Man include references to the Bible, Shakespeare, and Freud. The Bible references are used to highlight the struggles of African Americans and their fight for equality. The Shakespeare references are used to show how people can be controlled by their own egos. The Freudian allusions are used to suggest that some events are beyond our control.
All of these allusions work together to create a rich and textured novel that explores the many complexities of the human experience.
The narrator introduces himself as “Jack-the-Bear, for I am in ibernation” (6). Although this remark concerning Jack is indirect, it indicates all of Jack’s appearances in fairy tales (Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack and Jill, etc.) The reader is immediately informed that Invisible Man is the protagonist.
The idea that he is in hibernation, then, refers to his struggle between being the protagonist or antagonist; whether to act on his emotions and instincts or to try to live up to the cryptic words of his dead grandfather. In addition, Brother Jack may be regarded as a protagonist throughout the tale.
In the prologue, Invisible Man also writes, “I am an Invisible Man. I am Invisible, understand, because people refuse to see me” (6). This statement introduces the reader to the idea of invisibility as a metaphor for racism and discrimination that Invisible Man experiences throughout the novel. To be invisible is to be unseen, unheard, and unimportant in the eyes of society. This allusion ties in with Ralph Ellison’s beliefs about African Americans during this time period; that they were ignored and not given a voice.
Throughout Invisible Man, there are many allusions to other works of literature, history, and myths. These references help to give context and understanding to Invisible Man’s experiences. By understanding the allusions, readers are able to gain a greater understanding of Ellison’s Invisible Man.
Allusions are references to other texts or ideas. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, is full of allusions to various texts and ideas. In this essay, we will explore a few of these allusions.
One of the most overt allusions in Invisible Man is to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance.” The narrator of Invisible Man is often in conflict with others over what it means to be independent. The narrator echoes Emerson’s idea that “to be great is to be misunderstood.”