The text is liberally peppered with allusions, most of which are included by the narrator to make some comment on the time period of the novel, often by comparing it to our own era. Charles is a very learned character, and certain stimuli provoke connections in his mind between what he is experiencing and what he has read about. For example, when the beauty of Nature overwhelms him, Charles - and by proxy, the narrator - are sent into ecstasies of allusion, comparing the beauty of the scene to Renaissance (60, 191).
Charles' women also inspire allusions in the text, mostly relating to ancient mythology. Ernestina is a "sugar Aphrodite," an allusion to the goddess of love that highlights Ernestina's beauty and her sweet attempts to impress Charles with her appearance (207). Sarah the prostitute is so passive and statue-like that Charles is compared to Pygmalion, her sculptor (248). In order to explain why Charles does not run from Sarah Woodruff as she tries to reveal her secrets to him in Chapter 18, an allusion to Homer's Odyssey is employed: Charles has "too fixed an idea of what a siren look[s] like" and therefore is taken aback by Sarah, who does not fit this Homeric image (117). Charles is expecting women who will seduce and derail him to appear in certain circumstances, and so he is taken off guard here in the Undercliff. Sarah is also connected to Madame Bovary in Charles' mind, because she is such a modern woman and there isn't a proper example from classical literature that will explain her in his mind. In this case, the narrator comments that "[s]uch allusions are comprehensions; and temptations" - this hints at the power that allusions contain (100).