Allusion As A Sign Of Intertextuality (Based On “Beauty And The Beast”)


The article is dedicated to the study of allusions as one of the means of expressing intertextuality. The study is conducted on the basis of the Walt Disney studio full-length animated cartoon “Beauty and the Beast”. The author draws the conclusion that by means of allusions the reader / viewer learns, analyzes and generalizes information, connected with a pretext which, in their turn, helps with the process of creation of new ideas and promotes deeper understanding of what has been read / seen. Therefore, allusions have functional and semantic significance. Allusions are closely linked to associations, but the process of information decoding depends only on the reader / viewer and his background knowledge. Allusions serve the aim to transfer author’s intentions, and in our particular case (the analysis of the animated cartoon) they are unique as due to their usage the real world and the world of fantasy join together.

Keywords: AllusionAssociationAllusion on Real WorldAllusion on Fictional World


On frequent occasions while reading a literary work or watching a feature or animated film, certain images of heroes, political, literary, historical, mythological etc. facts come to mind during the process of internal dialogue. This effect is reached by the competent use of allusions by the author.

The word “allusion” is of Latin origin and means ““a play on words” or “game” and is a derivative of the Latin word alludere, meaning “to play around” or “to refer to mockingly.”” In literature allusion is “an implied or indirect reference to a person, event, or thing or to a part of another text. Most allusions are based on the assumption that there is a body of knowledge that is shared by the author and the reader and that therefore the reader will understand the author’s referent” (Luebering, 2014).

It is mainly due to the introduction of allusion that the author manages to express an idea in the terse language. This happens because the process of this information decoding entirely depends on the reader / viewer and their associative thinking.

Problem Statement

The problem of expressing intertextuality is topical nowadays. Many scientists have dealt with the issue of the meaning of intertextuality, signs of intertextuality and their functioning in the text. The study of allusion as one of the signs of intertextuality began in the XVI century. However, the theoretical foundation was formed only in the XX century.

Linguists underline different categories of allusions. But in most cases, allusive references can be traced in literary works or videos (feature films and documentaries). However, animated cartoons, which serve other functions due to completely different targeted audience, have not been thoroughly analyzed.

Research Questions

In order to conduct a research the following questions were asked:

  • What function(s) does allusion as a sign of intertextuality have?

  • Does the allusive link always have a mentioning of the author / literary work or its part?

  • What kinds of allusion are used in animated cartoons? Is there a certain functioning of theirs?

Purpose of the Study

Allusion is considered to be a kind of “mechanism” that joins intertextual links and helps to react to them properly. By means of associative thinking the reader / viewer learns, analyzes and generalizes information, connected with a pretext which, in their turn, helps with the process of creation of new ideas and promotes deeper understanding of what has been read / seen. The purpose of the study is to identify and analyze the associative links in the full-length animated cartoon “Beauty and the Beast”.

Research Methods

The study is based on the analysis of the Walt Disney studio animated cartoon “Beauty and the Beast”. Descriptive, analytical and historical methods of research provide the basis of the analysis.


The Allusive Story

The full-length animated cartoon "Beauty and the Beast" (Beauty and the Beast, 1991) is about the prince who, as well as all his servants, has been cursed by the old witch. If till the twenty first birthday of the prince, the day when the last petal falls from the magic rose, a charming girl does not fall in love with him, he will remain a monster, and his servants – the speaking household items. Everything changes when the beauty Belle becomes the captive of the castle. Eventually, amiability, sincerity and care replace arrogance, roughness and cruelty of the prince. The girl understands that true beauty is concealed in the heart and makes a declaration of love, thus, breaking the charms. The animated film finishes with a wedding of main characters.

It is necessary to emphasize that the story about a beautiful girl and a monster which, in most cases, is a bewitched prince is not new "Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, beauty and the beast". In this or that interpretation it is present in different cultures. A striking example of allusive links which unite the heading and the story line is the novel by Gaston Leroux "The Phantom of the Opera" about sincere transformations of the main character Eric (The Phantom of the Opera, 1910) which happen because of his love to Christina.

Allusions on historical facts and the world of fantasy

The allusive links appear with the very beginning of the narration. The words “ Once upon a time , in a faraway land , a young prince lived in a shining castle ” create the effect of fabulousness. The typical formula of the fairy tale exposition, uncertainty of time and place prepare the viewer for the unreal and fantastic story, which definitely has a moral. The introductory part is abundant with the fairy-tale fantasy indicators: Already in the introduction indicators of a fantastic fantasy appear: characters of mythological origin, specifically the witch and the bewitched prince (the speaking monster) and the bewitched objects: “ an old beggar woman [witch] came to the castle and offered him [a young prince ] a single rose in return for shelter from the bitter cold. Repulsed by her haggard appearance, the prince sneered at the gift and turned the old woman away…, the old woman's ugliness melted away to reveal a beautiful enchantress . The prince tried to apologize, but it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart, and as punishment, she transformed him into a hideous beast, and placed a powerful spell on the castle, and all who lived there . These indicators are associated with many national and literary fairy tales, but the fantastic chronotope of the storyline is better traced due to introduction of a magic item, - the rose “… The rose she had offered him was truly an enchanted rose , which would bloom until his twenty-first year. If he could learn to love another, and earn her love in return by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time”. For the Russian audience the magic rose is the direct association with The Little Scarlet Flower. In the fairy tale by Aksakov (Aksakov, 1858) the storyline according to which a beautiful girl has to break the charms from the prince until the last petal withers is repeated.

Despite the fantastic model of the narration, the content-related level of the animated cartoon presents the combination of allusions on the real and fantastic worlds. Thus, the French names of characters (Belle, Gaston, Lefou, Maurice, Lumiere …), greetings and addresses in French (Bonjour!, monsieur, Papa …), the small quiet provincial town, allusion on traditional cuisine (grapes, cheese, fresh pastries) draw an image of the charming and romantic country, and together with it send us to the primary source, - the most known version of the fairy tale published by the French writer Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont in 1756. The 18th century in France is historically considered a century of practicians, but not theorists, еру time when philosophers were confident that the person was reasonable by nature, and that literacy "was imposed" by church. A short excursus to the past became possible thanks to the phrase of Gaston, the young man in love with Belle:" … It's not right for a woman to read - soon she starts getting ideas... and thinking ".

Self-assured Gaston makes a declaration of love to Belle and proposes her, but receives a refusal. When he is on street, the small orchestra begins to play the musical composition of "Here Come the Bride" (Here Come the Bride, 1850) which is considered today as the traditional wedding song, but which was earlier rejected by church.

Another historical milestone is the image of the French scientist. In the 18th century people considered the world to be perfect and announced science and progress the enemies of mankind. Idealization of the "ordinary" person found the reflection in ridiculing and mockery of Maurice, Belle’s father who was an inventor.

Once Maurice is taken captive by the beast living in the gloomy and solitary castle. Being a faithful and grateful daughter, Belle sacrifices her freedom and becomes the captive herself, while her father is carried away to the city by a palanquin. This episode represents allusion on a real historic fact: in the 18th century palanquins were a widespread vehicle (a palanquin –a sort of enclosed chair carried on the shoulders of four or more people, used for transporting an important person in the past, especially in East Asia (McMillan Dictionary, 2007). Palanquins had to keep a secret of a person being transported as nobody knew who was inside. In the animated cartoon the palanquin is completely closed (even the person who is inside could not see anything). In this case the vehicle continues to be associated with isolation and concealment; - Maurice should not remember the road to the castle.

The next episode that includes the allusion on historical realities is observed when the Beast, having warmed to Belle’s kindness, releases her from a dungeon and provides her with the big bedroom. While they are walking along long halls and corridors, we have an opportunity to study the castle interior, the interior executed in Gothic style with figures of gargoyles under the ceilings. According to French legends, gargoyles were dragon-looking serpents which put the fear of God into citizens. In architecture their stone sculptures were aimed at scaring enemies stiff and protecting the castle, but in the animated cartoon these are visitors of the castle who are kept in awe by gargoyles.

Trying to get to know more about Belle and to find an approach to her, the Beast has recourse to a magic mirror which shows images of any person or place about which the owner has asked him. The Beast watches who the girl communicates with, what she talks about and, most importantly, notices the change in her attitude towards him. The magic mirror is the allusion on a similar magic subject, but from another tale of the Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937) where the angry old witch watched the Snow White with the intention to poison her and to become the most beautiful.

The servants are literally mesmerized by Belle and try to help and to entertain her. We see the dances performed in the traditional French style, we listen to conversations about art. In one of such conversations Cogsworth gives a lecture about different styles and tries to describe the castle: “ As you can see, pseudo facade was stripped away to reveal a minimalist rococo design. Note the unusual inverted vaulted ceilings. This is yet another example of the neo-classic baroque period, and as I always say, if it's not baroque, don't fix it! " The described styles which are generally characterised by refinement of forms, distinguished lines, a graceful ornament obviously do not correspond to the Gothic castle with its rich interior, the elaborate arches and mosaic windows, but Cogsworth tries to brighten up a gloomy impression of the place where all of them live.

Belle's relation to the Beast cardinally changes after he saves her from hungry and furious wolves. Belle looks after him, treats his deep wounds. On recovery, she teaches the Beast reading and writing, etiquette, rules of conduct. After troubles and anxieties connected with the situation, fear of the present and future, the relations between Belle and the Beast gain a quiet and friendly character. This episode is again a retrospect to historical France which underwent considerable changes as a result of the French revolution.

Taken to Belle, the Beast releases her and lets her go to the sick father, but the girl hurries to return when learning about the attack of the castle. Gaston betrays her, declaring the desire to kill the Beast. The young man will mortally wound the Monster, however sincere love of the girl does not allow him to die, and with the first kiss of love charms are broken.


Thus, while studying the allusive links in the context of the Walt Disney studio full-length animated cartoon "Beauty and the Beast", it can be concluded that allusion is a distinctive technique of intertextuality. Allusions are closely linked to associations, but the process of information decoding depends only on the viewer and his background knowledge. Allusions serve the aim to transfer author’s intentions, and in our particular case they are unique as due to their usage the real world and the world of fantasy join together.

Creation of the real world happens thanks to allusions on:

  • historical dates and events,

  • styles of architecture,

  • geographic location,

  • household goods,

  • personal names,

  • pieces of music.

The world of fantasy is represented by allusions on:

  • characters of mythological origin,

  • magic objects,

  • speaking beings and objects.

Owing to the fact that there is an alternation of the real and fantastic worlds the narration takes the bizzare (fantastic) shapes that does not prevent the "fantastic" from functioning as a morality story (what is important is not physical beauty, but soulfulness).


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Publication Date

30 April 2018

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

Cite this article as:

Kochneva, I. (2018). Allusion As A Sign Of Intertextuality (Based On “Beauty And The Beast”). In I. V. Denisova (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 39. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 489-494). Future Academy.