You may have come across the term foreshadowing whilst looking into the English language and you may also have wondered what it was and how it can be used. In this article, we are going to study the use of foreshadowing a little more deeply, we will be looking at exactly what it is and how it can be used as well as looking at some examples of foreshadowing. These examples will be in both a conversational context and a literary one.
What is foreshadowing?
Foreshadowing is a type of literary device where an author makes a hint towards something that will happen later in the story. This usually appears at the beginning of the text either at the very beginning or at the start of a chapter. It is a way to encourage the reader to think about what may be to come and cause them to develop an expectation of what the story might bring later down the line. It can act as a form of suspense in order to keep the reader engaged and continuing to read.
When used in literature, foreshadowing can be applied in a variety of ways such as through conversational dialogue between characters, a hint in the title or through a narrative. Many writers will use a pre-scene to apply foreshadowing, for example, they will describe the carnage of a plane crash, and describe one survivor walking away before switching to the present day. This would suggest that a plane crash is evident.
Foreshadowing can also be used as a figure of speech in which a speaker might refer to something that is going to talk about later in the conversation after they have delivered the initial information.
Examples of Foreshadowing In Conversation
A speaker may use foreshadowing at the start of a conversation in order to point out something which they will talk about later down the line. It can serve as a reminder to the speaker themselves and also is informative for the listener. We are now going to look at some examples of how foreshadowing might be used during the day to day conversation.
- I am going to tell you about what happened on the camping trip shortly but first I must tell you where we went.
- Louise was really angry, and I’ll tell you why in a moment, she was so mad that she punched Andrew in the nose.
- She will definitely be coming later, but until then we will watch this TV show.
- The most terrible thing happened on that stormy night, the war between evil and good had begun.
- Inhale the fresh air and exhale the bad breath.
Examples of Foreshadowing In Literature
As we mentioned, foreshadowing is often used as a literary device in order to allow the author to refer to something at an early stage, that will happen later in the story. It is a good way to engage the reader and give an expectation of what is to come. There have been many examples of foreshadowing used in various types of literature over the years and we are now going to look at some examples of these.
- In William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, we see an example of foreshadowing in the following passage; “Life will be better ended by the hate, than in death prorogued by wanting their love.”
- In Great Expectations written by Charles Dickens there is an excellent example of foreshadowing when we take a look at the following excerpt; “Wet and stormy, wet and stormy and so much mud, mud, the streets so deep in mud. Day after day there had been a large and heavy veil which was being driven over London from the East, and still, it drove, as though there were an eternity of clouds in the East, The gusts of wind had been so furious that the higher buildings in town had the lead torn right off and over in the country, the trees had been ripped up and the windmills’ sails carried away, and accounts of death and shipwrecks had been sent in from the coast. Accompanying these winds has been violent blasts in rain and as the day ended, I sat down to read the worst of all.“
- In Dan Brown’s, The Da Vinci Code, there is a very famous example of foreshadowing. However, as with most books of this type, the foreshadowing can often be misleading and actually provide information to divert the reader away from what is actually going to happen. In The Da Vinci Code, the Bishop is seen to be behaving in a suspicious manner which would have the reader believe that he has something to hide, these actions would appear to foreshadow his future, but in reality, this was a ‘red herring.’
- In the rime of the ancient mariner written by S T Coleridge there is a good example of foreshadowing in this excerpt “Her lips of red and her looks so free, she thickens mans blood by cold.“
- In The Highwaymen written by Alfred Noyes, we see an example of foreshadowing when we read the following passage; “The wind appeared as a torrent, one of darkness amongst the gusty trees. It was then that those highwaymen rode up to the door of the inn.”
- Earle Birney writes a great example of foreshadowing in his piece entitled David. Let’s take a look at this. “Landed in saxifrage and gentian, far from the wind and spilt on the moss…cliff and unseen splashed into the mist and the shadows.”
Foreshadowing is mainly used as a literary device in which the author will make reference to a situation which is going to happen later in the text. It is a way to give the reader an insight into details of the story that have yet to unfold. Foreshadowing can help give the reader a sense of excitement and nervousness due to the fact that they are not sure what is going to happen but only have a hint towards it.
However, it can also be used in a conversational context allowing the speaker to refer to something that will be discussed further on in the conversation.