Literary foreshadowing is an important literary element, and students must be able to understand how to identify foreshadowing. Whether in a short story, play, or a novel, this literary device gets students acting like detectives, on the edge of their seats, and trying to guess what will happen next. By learning how to identify foreshadowing and literary devices similar to foreshadowing, students will eventually be able to comprehend how to foreshadow in writing of their own.
Foreshadowing future events is a literary device that is used to give the reader a hint, warning, or suggestion of future plot developments. The foreshadow meaning and a foreshadow picture can be difficult concepts to grasp, as they are often not explicit or obvious, and the reader may even miss the hints dropped by the author. Although foreshadowing is often used in mystery novels, it can be used in any genre of literature. Foreshadowing can be gloomy accounts, scene foreshadows, or even false clues! All types of foreshadowing can be considered ironic foreshadowing, since the reader has the potential to know things that the characters do not!
There are many literary techniques that authors use to foreshadow in their writing. Some of these techniques include:
The purpose of foreshadowing in books is that foreshadowing helps to keep the audience’s interest and wanting to read on, creating a sense of suspense and anticipation. It makes the reader feel invested in the plot, and pushes the reader to think about and be curious about what will happen next. Since foreshadowing is often used early on in the story in the first chapter, it can create a certain atmosphere or tone for the reader in the second or third chapter and beyond.
In general, foreshadowing can be either direct or indirect. Direct foreshadowing is straightforward and obvious, and heightens the reader’s awareness and anticipation of things to come in the story. Indirect foreshadowing, on the other hand, gives the reader subtle clues to events that will happen in the future. The reader usually will not even realize the importance of the foreshadowing until after the event has taken place.
There are 5 types of foreshadowing in literature, although many are only familiar with 4. Learn more about the different types of foreshadowing, with examples of foreshadowing in literature from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations below.
What is concrete foreshadowing? Commonly referred to as "Chekov's Gun", concrete foreshadowing is when the author explicitly states something that they want the reader to be aware of for the future. An example of this in the novel is when Pip mentions that the stranger in the bar stirred his drink with a file. This foreshadowed a connection with the first convict, who the reader later learns is Pip’s benefactor.
Prophecy foreshadowing, also known as prominent foreshadowing, is linked to a fortune or prophecy that a character will receive, which explicitly tells the reader what will happen in the future. Although sometimes this fortune or omen can seem unclear, they end up coming true in the end. An example of prophecy foreshadowing from the story is when Pip is given the conditions of his expectations from Jaggers. He stated that Pip may not inquire who his benefactor is, until coming events when they choose to reveal themselves.
Flashback/Flash-Forward Foreshadowing, or evocative foreshadowing, is when an author needs the reader to know something that doesn't fit with the current storyline. The author will usually use a flashback or flash-forward to give the reader the information. Most of the time, the information obtained in the flash will have clues or hints to something the author wants you to remember or pick up on later, which makes foreshadowing but in the past or reverse foreshadowing. In Great Expectations, there are several times when Pip interjects as the narrator and gives his inner thoughts from the present. Many instances it is to tell the reader how foolish he was, like when he mistreated Joe.
Fallacy foreshadowing, or "The Red Herring", is the most fun of all the types. A red herring is a wild goose chase or smoke screen that diverts readers' attention. Its only purpose is to throw the reader off, causing more suspicion, intrigue, and surprise. It is commonly found in works of detective fiction, but can lend itself anywhere the author needs to avert suspicion. A great example of this is from the novel Great Expectations when the author keeps foreshadowing that Pip's benefactor is Miss Havisham or Pumblechook, or maybe it's Joe? The author keeps it a secret and diverts our attention so that when we find out who it is, we are shocked and surprised.
Warning: may contain spoilers! The following famous examples were chosen because they build dramatic tension and create suspense!
Storyboard That has tons of pre-made activities for novels of all genres that are appropriate for all grade levels. Generally speaking, our activities take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour; they are engaging, creative, and the kids will love them! Many of our novels have foreshadowing activities that you can use. However, if you are just looking for an introduction to foreshadowing activity, check out the example below. We have provided you with everything that you need to use this lesson today, including an overview, Common Core standards, specific essential questions, objectives, a list of materials, tips, and a suggested procedure. Check out our pre-made examples and templates to make your lesson even easier to prepare!
Although this lesson can be used for multiple grade levels below are examples of the Common Core State Standards for Grades 9-10. Please see your Common Core State Standards for the correct grade-appropriate strands. Remember: this is just a guide for standards. Individual states have their own individual standards.
What is foreshadowing, and how can inference and predicting skills be used to see clues in a work of literature? Teach students this literary element and ask them to think deeply about ways foreshadowing can affect the work as a whole. This lesson will get students more familiar with the literary device of foreshadowing, and help students be able to better recognize it in the books that they read.
Students will be able to define foreshadowing and list its different types from works inside or outside the classroom (this may include film sources).
What students should know and be able to do before starting this lesson: Students should be able to define, in their words, the concept of foreshadowing.
Be specific when asking students to create a storyboard that shows the types of foreshadowing. Having a specific storyboard template for students to start with will help guide them and help them organize their thoughts. We recommend a spider map or a chart storyboard. Make sure that students include an explanation of each attribute as well as a quote that backs up their claim. If they are doing this, consider having the students download their storyboards to a PowerPoint using the feature in the toolbar. This is a perfect way for them to explain each cell.
Teachers should make or print out two worksheets prior to the lesson. Worksheet #1 should have three columns: the first column will be the type of foreshadowing and the text will already be provided. The second column will be where the students write the definition for that type of foreshadowing, and the third column will be where students write a specific example of this type of foreshadowing.
Need help creating a worksheet? Check out our extensive worksheet template library!
Activator: Students will be given Worksheet #1 and instructed to fill in the boxes, to the best of their ability. You may print out the worksheet, or assign it as a template in your account. In the grid, they will write their definition of each type as the instructor goes through them. Then, in the second column, they must come up with an example of this type from a story, play, novel, or even a movie they know. If students cannot fill in a box, then instruct them that they may leave it blank. After five minutes, ask students to compare lists with someone sitting near them. Then ask each pair to say an example of one type out loud.
After defining the terms, decide whether you would like students to pair together or complete the worksheet individually. Using Storyboard That's creator, they can fill in their master worksheet and create cells depicting each type of foreshadowing in the last row.
After students have finished creating their master worksheet, consider having them present their ideas to each other. Using the slideshow or PowerPoint feature is a great way to end the lesson. Check out our lessons on how giving students a presentation to complete will help them master the concept of foreshadowing.
Many of Storyboard That’s pre-made teacher guides include foreshadowing activities. A few of these activities are below. Check them out today!
The use of foreshadowing requires students to read actively, paying close attention to details and making connections between them.
As students identify instances of foreshadowing in the text, they must make predictions and inferences about what may happen next, based on the clues provided.
Students must analyze and interpret the foreshadowing in the context of the story, considering how it contributes to the plot, theme, and character development.
Students must evaluate the effectiveness of the foreshadowing in the story and reflect on how it enhances their understanding of the text.
Students can apply their understanding of foreshadowing to other texts and real-world situations, helping them develop critical thinking skills that can be used beyond the classroom.
There are actually 5 types of foreshadowing! The 5 types are: prophecy, concrete, flashback/flash-forward, symbolic, and fallacy foreshadowing.
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell how to identify foreshadowing. Unless it is concrete, readers must be aware that foreshadowing is likely in certain types of stories. Sometimes you can identify foreshadowing if an event is mentioned earlier in the story, in the dialogue, and in a scene that shows something will clearly reoccur.
Concrete foreshadowing is when the author clearly and explicitly tells the reader something that they want you to know for the future of the book. It is obvious and intentional. This is commonly referred to as, "Chekov's Gun".
There are lots of options on how to use foreshadowing in writing. Some ways of writing foreshadowing include: in the title, in dialogue between characters, the choice of setting, figurative language, and even in the traits of the main characters.
We have listed many examples of good foreshadowing above. Another, however, is from the book, The Kite Runner. At the beginning of the book, the reader is shown Amir’s recollection of a “deserted alley”.