Foreshadowing is a literary device that is used to make a story more interesting. Foreshadowing examples will be used in the following article to explain this very interesting concept in more detail.
Foreshadowing is one of the most interesting literary devices that is used in the plot of a story or a film. What is foreshadowing? Foreshadowing as a technique focuses on providing clues of what is to follow in the plot. Foreshadowing examples create sufficient suspense in the audience (or the readers) because they provide for very slight clues. These clues help to increase their interest levels and hold them on to the material. Another important reason for why foreshadowing is used is so that the audience is prepared for what is to follow.
There are a number of ways by which foreshadowing can be achieved. It can either be done in passing with the help of a comment, or as a thought that one of the characters has, as a symbolic representation through certain symbols, as well as certain other forms. Several ways of foreshadowing are used in a literary text or a film―in some, foreshadowing examples are used quite clearly and openly, making the audience or readers aware that something is about to follow, while in others the foreshadowing is done very subtly so that the audience does not doubt anything. Though in retrospect the audience is able to understand what the clues were when it all comes together in the end to make perfect sense and lend meaning to that particular work of art. In the following article, we will look at some of the most interesting instances of foreshadowing for kids and adults through the mediums of literature and movies.
Examples of Foreshadowing in Literature
Now that we know what the foreshadowing definition is, let us move onto some of the most effective examples of the same in literature. Foreshadowing as a literary technique has been used in literature for centuries. There are many poets and writers who made use of this literary device to create a unique form of storytelling.
Example # 1 – Macbeth
Macbeth is one such example in literature that provides for lucid foreshadowing instances. Shakespeare uses several foreshadowing examples throughout ‘Macbeth’ in the form of the witches prophesies as well as their speech. This is done at regular intervals in the play, which then foreshadow the events that are to follow.
To make this clearer, the witch’s prophesy:
“Fair is foul and foul is fair”.
In this they are laying the setting of something evil that is to follow. The events that happen throughout the play will only act in making this prophesy come true and follow through. In another prophesy that goes:
“Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill shall come against him”.
In this prophesy, the witches talk about how Macbeth cannot be killed until the trees of the great Birnam wood start walking and come to attack him. This is shown to put Macbeth at ease because he takes it in literal translation. In the end, the soldiers in Macduff’s army use the branches of the Birman wood as a protective shield as they move towards Macbeth for an attack―what can be seen are the trees moving. Thus this example foreshadows Macbeth’s death, only that Macbeth is not able to recognize these prophesies and therein lies the brilliance of this work of art.
It is not merely the witches and their prophesies that are used as symbols of foreshadowing, but several other symbols are used in this literary work as well.
It was the owl that shriek’d, the fatal bell man,
which gives the stern’st good-night.
He is about it”.
This text talks about the shriek of an owl that has happened at the same time that the bell man has rung the bell of the night. An owl shrieking is considered an ill omen that foreshadows death. As it turns out, while the owl shrieked, Macbeth and his wife were killing king Duncan. The audience is warned about the death beforehand through the owl, because until that point they are not sure whether Macbeth will go ahead with the plan.
Example # 2 – Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare uses a lot of foreshadowing in this literary piece as well. Many foreshadowing examples are used in passing by most characters in the film, like Benvolio foreshadows that when Romeo sees another, his old infatuation will die, which is exactly what happens with Rosaline (his old crush) when he sees Juliet. But perhaps the most hard hitting examples of foreshadowing are the ones where both, Romeo and Juliet, end up prophesying their own deaths.
“Of a despised life closed in my breast
By some vile forfeit of untimely death”.
In this Romeo fears that he is going to die an ‘untimely death’ which is exactly what happens.
“If he be married.
My grave is like to be my wedding bed”.
In this Juliet means to say that if Romeo is married, she will be unmarried throughout her life and go to her grave unmarried. But as it turns out, her wedding bed does become her grave.
Examples of Foreshadowing in Movies
It’s not just the medium of literature that foreshadowing is used in, movies also form a good base for several foreshadowing instances. Here are some of the best examples of foreshadowing in movies.
Example # 1 – Star Wars
“Why do I get the feeling, you will be the death of me”?
These lines are said by Obi Wan to Anakin and it is later learned that the Anakin does kill him in the film.
Example # 2 – Crash
In the beginning of the film, a Persian man (Farhan) is seen buying a gun and is racially abused against. He storms out of the shop, while his daughter buys the gun for him, but purchases only blanks without his knowledge. In a parallel story line, Daniel, a Hispanic is seen explaining to his terrified young daughter (in the background of gunshots) that the gunshots can’t harm her because she has a ‘special cloak’ to protect her. In the following scenes Daniel and Farhan have a tiff and Farhan promises revenge, so he carries his gun over and fires at Daniel. The daughter sees the scene unfolding and runs towards the father with the ‘special cloak’. The bullet hits her. But she does not die because the gun has only blanks in it.
The gun and the cloak are used as symbols of foreshadowing and it is only in the end that the audience realizes their importance.
P.S. – I can understand that these foreshadowing examples will probably not make any sense to you if you haven’t read the books, or seen the films that I have mentioned here. So I urge you to do the needful to understand this literary device better.
Now that you know what foreshadowing means and you have some examples of the same, I hope that these examples have been able to command your interest a little to want to read up more on this very interesting device. It is only when you are aware of foreshadowing, that you begin to notice clues in works of art. Let’s just say that it is a very enriching experience as an audience and reader.