Foreshadowing

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In this Arthur Rackham illustration, the Rhinemaidens warn Siegfried of a curse, foreshadowing the disasters of Götterdämmerung.

Foreshadowing or guessing ahead is a literary device by which an author hints what is to come.[1] It is used to avoid disappointment, and sometimes used to arouse readers.[2][3]

A hint that is designed to mislead the audience is referred to as a red herring. A similar device is the flashforward (also known as prolepsis). However, foreshadowing only hints at a possible outcome within the confinement of a narrative. A flashforward is a scene that takes the narrative forward in time from the current point of the story in literature, film, television, and other media.[4][5] Foreshadowing is sometimes employed through characters explicitly predicting the future.[6]

Examples[edit]

In the novel and subsequent screen adaptation of The Lord of the Rings,[7] Frodo considers it unfortunate that Bilbo pitied Gollum and was unable to kill him, but Gandalf feels that Gollum "has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end". This conversation foreshadows the fact that later in the story Frodo himself pities Gollum and is unable to kill him. Gollum then inadvertently makes it possible to destroy the Ring, which is the whole point of Frodo's and the rest of the central characters' quest.

Foreshadowing is used in much of the works of John Steinbeck. In Of Mice and Men, Lennie accidentally kills a mouse, a dog and finally Curley's wife. This foreshadows his own death. When Carlson kills Candy's Dog, Candy tells George, "I ought to of shot that dog myself" making George later chose to kill Lennie himself to save him from dying by the hands of a stranger. Doing it the way that Carlson did it was for the best because, "He won't even feel it." [8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mogensen (2009). Along Literary Lines. Gyldendal. p. 55. ISBN 8702056178. 
  2. ^ Author's Craft - "Narrative Elements - Foreshadowing" Retrieved 2013-07-18
  3. ^ Nicola Onyett (30 November 2012). Philip Allan Literature Guide (for A-Level): A Streetcar Named Desire. Hodder Education. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-4441-5376-7. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Ulrike Spierling; Nicolas Szilas (3 December 2008). Interactive Storytelling: First Joint International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, ICIDS 2008 Erfurt, Germany, November 26-29, 2008, Proceedings. Springer. p. 156. ISBN 978-3-540-89424-7. 
  5. ^ flash-forward - definition of flash-forward by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia
  6. ^ Philip Martin, The Writer's Guide to Fantasy Literature: From Dragon's Lair to Hero's Quest, p 146, ISBN 0-87116-195-8
  7. ^ J.R.R. Tokien, The Fellowship of the Ring, p 68, ISBN 0-261-10231-1
  8. ^ John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, p 61, ISBN 9783125785021