Examples of Foreshadowing in Literature

There are countless examples of foreshadowing in literature in classic and contemporary writings such as plays, novels, short stories, film scripts, poetry, essays and journalism. This fundamental and powerful literary technique is weaved into stories to prepare the reader for events that will occur later in the story.

A prime literary example of this technique is John Steinbeck's short story "Of Mice and Men." The killing of Candy's old dog points to the killing of Lennie. It also signifies Lennie's difficult life and the end of a relationship that brought joy and purpose to George.

In the first line of Kate Chopin's short story "The Story of an Hour" the author uses the words heart trouble to describe the main character's fragile condition. However, these words point to the story's ending, in which the main character dies from shock when she sees her husband --whom she thought was dead - alive and well. The story includes many other examples of this technique: after hearing about her husband's death, the main character felt as though "There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully." Although the first meaning of this phrase denotes her freedom and joy, the second shadows her sudden death.

Shakespeare's tragic drama "Romeo and Juliet" is cluttered with examples of this technique; albeit more obvious than the aforementioned examples. Throughout the play both Romeo and Juliet constantly refer to death, murder and suicide. One of the most obvious examples is Juliet's fake death scene after drinking Friar Lawrence's potion.

Foreshadowing in Major Literary Works