Guide to Literary Terms

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What is the literary device that introduces future items into a story, like the mantel clock in "King Henry VIII"?

The mantel clock in "King Henry VIII" is an example. Mantel clocks existed in Shakespeare's time, but not in King Henry VIII's.

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This is known as an anachronism, and Shakespeare's works feature many of them which sharp readers will identify. There are other clock anachronisms that come to mind in Julius Caesar, such as the one found in Act II when Caesar asks the time and Brutus tells him that the clock has "strucken eight." Not likely!

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The literary device that you are referring to is known as anachronism, or when something is chronologically out of place.

Anachronism: Something that is used in a story when it was not yet invented.

According to Webster's Dictionary:

"1: an error in chronology ; especially : a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other 2: a person or a thing that is chronologically out of place ; especially : one from a former age that is incongruous in the present3: the state or condition of being chronologically out of place"


 

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