Guide to Literary Terms

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Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is a literary device that hints at what will come later in the story and is often used to create suspense. It is achieved through the author’s use of clues and/or subtle suggestions. Foreshadowing is usually quite subtle and is often only fully noticed or understood after a second reading of the work. Please keep in mind foreshadowing occurs when there has been a significant interval of time between the clue and the event that it foreshadows.

Correct example:

  • “I fear too early, for my mind misgives
    Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
    Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
    With this night’s revels, and expire the term
    Of a despisèd life closed in my breast
    By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
    But he that hath the steerage of my course,
    Direct my sail. On, lusty gentlemen.” (Act I, Scene IV)

  • In this excerpt from Romeo and Juliet, Romeo’s feelings of trepidation quite clearly foreshadow his eventual demise.

Incorrect examples:

  • “Two households,...

(The entire section is 328 words.)