Allusion in The Mortal Immortal

Allusion Examples in The Mortal Immortal:

The Mortal Immortal 8

"making another man a Cain..."   (The Mortal Immortal)

In the biblical story of Cain and Abel, Cain, the elder brother, is jealous of his younger sibling, who seems to be preferred by his father and God. Cain murders Abel out of envy and is condemned to wander the earth in atonement for his crime. By this phrase, Winzy suggests that he does not wish to force someone to kill him.

"Thus I have lived on for many a year--alone, and weary of myself-- desirous of death, yet never dying--a mortal immortal...."   (The Mortal Immortal)

Some scholars believe that Shelley took the title of this story from John Keats’s poem “Endymion,” which referenced mortal beings’ relationships with immortals. One line reads:

Now, if this earthly love has power to make / Men's being mortal, immortal

"Nestors..."   (The Mortal Immortal)

This is an allusion the the classical figure of Nestor from Greek and Roman mythology. Nestor was the oldest and wisest Greek counselor involved in the Trojan War. Winzy’s comparison of the other elderly people in the village to Nestor highlights his youthful appearance in contrast to his age.

"the fate of all the children of Adam..."   (The Mortal Immortal)

In the biblical story of creation, Adam is the first man and Eve the first woman created by God. In Christian tradition, all people are descended from them. After disobeying God, they and their children begin to die rather than live forever. Winzy hopes that his fate will be the same.

""a prophet is least regarded in his own country,"..."   (The Mortal Immortal)

This is an allusion to Jesus’s words in the biblical book of Mark 6:4. It means that those who are skillful are less likely to be revered by those who have known them for a long time. They are either underestimated because out of envy of their achievements or because familiarity makes them seem ordinary.

"All the world has also heard of his scholar, who, unawares, raised the foul fiend during his master's absence, and was destroyed by him...."   (The Mortal Immortal)

This likely alludes to Doctor Faustus, a tragic play by Christopher Marlowe, first performed in the late 1580s. In the play, Faustus, who is motivated in part to be a renowned occultist like Agrippa, summons a demon. Though he retains the demon’s service for many years, he is eternally damned for meddling in the occult.

"Nourjahad..."   (The Mortal Immortal)

The fictional Nourjahad’s life is recounted in Francis Sheridan’s The History of Nourjahad. Originally, Nourjahad is rebuked for wanting eternal life, but his friend Schemzeddin, the ruler of Persia, decides to test Nourjahad by making it appear as though he is immortal. Nourjahad is initially happy, but eventually comes to understand the perils of immortality.

"Seven Sleepers..."   (The Mortal Immortal)

According to Islamic and Christian legend, a group of youths fled to a cave to escape religious persecution. They settled in for what they thought was a single night but awoke hundreds of years later, safe from continued oppression. Their immortality appears to have not continued past that initial time jump, leading Winzy to comment they have a more pleasant version of immortality than he does.