What Does Foreshadowing Mean? Help for Teachers and Students

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Let’s Go to the Movies

Most movies use foreshadowing in the opening scene. There is usually some component of the first scene that gives a hint to future events.

Many movies start with a dramatic scene or dramatic weather. If the first image seen is a dark, stormy night it is a classic example of using foreshadowing to give hints to the tone and theme of the movie. Movies also often have a character early in the film talking about a character that has not yet appeared. The dialogue gives hints to a relationship with that character that becomes easy to understand only later, when the character appears.

I like to assign homework to watch a movie on TV or at the movies and write a description of any foreshadowing techniques used.

It’s a Snap

It is also interesting to bring in a wide range of nature photos and action photos and ask the class: “If this photo was the opening scene of a story or film what hint would the author be giving?” The setting and the weather are often used to create a mood in the viewer and this technique is used in writing too.

Can I Quote You?

Find memorable quotes from stories or plays already read in class recently that use foreshadowing. Ask the class what event the line gave a hint about. Then have students quickly skim just the beginning pages of new short story to find examples of foreshadowing. Ask the class to write a paragraph or two about possible events the hint in the story introduction could be foreshadowing.

Create Examples of Foreshadowing

To ensure students truly understand the concept of foreshadowing have them sit in groups and write five examples of foreshadowing they would like to use if writing a short story. Then have the group pick several of the examples and as a group create a short story that includes at least three examples of foreshadowing.