What is foreshadowing?

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stolperia's profile pic

stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Foreshadowing is a literary technique used to give indications of things that will come to pass in the future. Authors may use foreshadowing to hint at the ways in which plot developments may occur, or they may support the introduction of certain characteristics of someone in the story by indicating that these abilities will be valuable at a later point in the story.

Consider Edgar Allan Poe's short story, "The Cask of Amontillado." This story opens with the narrator and main character, Montresor, speaking. "The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could, but when he ventured on insult I vowed revenge." Based on that one sentence, Poe has already presented the motivation for the entire plot and foreshadowed the dire consequences that are probably in store for Fortunato.


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taangerine's profile pic

taangerine | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Foreshadowing is a literary device that shows early signs of something that might be significant in the story later on. 

Some examples of foreshadowing would be: 

  • Weather: The weather can play a significant role in a story as it can help the reader/audience knows what's to come or ahead. For example, rain can represent a downfall of emotion (such as sadness & crying) later on. 
  • Representation of a symbol: If a symbol/object is shown early on in the novel, remember it! It might show up later on. For example, why would an author talk about the protagonist seeing an umbrella if the protagonist is not going to use it later on when it rains? 
chrisyhsun's profile pic

chrisyhsun | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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Foreshadowing is a literary technique in which the author slips in an early indication of something that will happen later on in the plot. A lot of times, these can be very slight. I also find that foreshadowing is often in regards to negative rather than positive things. For instance, a treacherous thunderstorm that occurs on supposedly a day of joy (maybe a birthday or something) could be used to indicate future evils or problems.

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laurto | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Foreshadowing is an advance sign or warning of what is to come in the future. Foreshadowing is used as a literary device to "tease" readers about the plot or what will occur later in the story. 

anjali989's profile pic

anjali989 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Honors

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foreshadowing is a method used in literature which helps the writers to build up suspense in the mind's of the readers.this method leaves clues or hints in the story or any literary art to tell the readers that something is about to happen.this technique makes the reader wonder what is going to happen till the truth is revealed.foreshadowing helps to build tension and power to the literary piece.

for example:

In the first line of Kate Chopin's short story "The Story of an Hour" the author uses the words heart trouble to describe the main character's fragile condition. However, these words point to the story's ending, in which the main character dies from shock when she sees her husband --whom she thought was dead - alive and well. The story includes many other examples of this technique: after hearing about her husband's death, the main character felt as though "There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully." Although the first meaning of this phrase denotes her freedom and joy, the second shadows her sudden death.

hope it helps you :D