How to Differentiate Between a Simile & an Allusion

Allusion and similes are both common literary elements used to enhance the quality of a story. While statements of allusion may appear on the surface to mirror similes, they have different purposes.

What is a simile?

A simile is a statement comparing similar qualities between two different thingsExamples of a simile. A simile often uses the words "like" or "as" to compare two things.

Examples of a simile

It strengthens the point that the character has beautiful eyes by comparing them to the glistening sun.

This quote from ​The Sun Also Rises​ by Ernest Hermingway uses a simile to describe the cafe.

What is an allusion?

An allusion is an indirect reference to a person, place or event. It is meant to remind the reader of something without actually mentioning it explicitly.

Examples of an allusion

Describing a character as being

This allusion is used to emphasize the character's honesty by comparing him to a historical figure known for his honesty.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

This poem by Robert Frost alludes to the Biblical Garden of Eden.

Cite this Article