What is the meaning of 'foreshadowing?'

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That is an important question. Foreshadowing is a literary device that allows an omniscient narrator or author to give a preview of the future. It is a hint for the reader to catch. Sometimes these foreshadows are very subtle and can only be seen after the book or movie is viewed a second or even third time. However, you must also keep in mind the misdirection that can take place. A foreshadow does not have to be accurate. It is possible that foreshadows can lead a reader to anticipate something, which will never come. In this way, the author can create a surprise.

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Foreshadowing is a technique or device used in fiction,drama or poetry to create tension and suspense by presaging the later (often tragic) events that are to come. The reader may discern clues of what the storyline is going to be.An example would be in 'The Odour of Chrysanthememus' short story by English author D.H. Lawrence. He opens the short story with a detailed description of the local countryside and railway line - and the cottage where the family in the story lives. He is sure to include in the introduction a description of the flowers - and, importantly their condition. They are not bold and jaunty and garishly colorful,full of life. They have the aura of death about them - fading,brown,drooping. Later in the story when the drunkard husband is killed in a mine accident, his body is 'laid out' in the front parlor which has the scent of chrysanthemums- and a vase of chrysanthemums is knocked over.The wife spends her time quickly picking it up and putting the room back to rights instead of grieving.

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As a literary term, foreshadowing means giving the reader a hint of what is to come through the setting, the characters' words or actions, or eventually a symbol.  Although not necessarily so, it usually implies a warning of something negative (or even disasterous) about to happen through clues interwoven into descriptive passages or the story line itself.

Examples of the above would be the house crumbling into ruins in Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher," Madame Loisel's character profile as the frustrated housewife in "The Necklace," or the rigid dachshund in front of the cozy fire in Roald Dahl's "The Landlady."  Although the ending still comes as a surprise, the reader anticipates trouble ahead.

 

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