© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

Literature Glossary

Don’t be an oxymoron. Know your literary terms.

Over 200 literary terms, Shmooped to perfection.

Foreshadowing

Definition:

Think of foreshadowing as the literary spoiler. It's just a fancy term for when a book gives us hints or suggestions about what's going to happen down the road a page or two (or two hundred). Authors put this trick to use in a number of ways—by describing a similar event, by conspicuously pointing out an object that will rear its ugly head later (think Chekhov's gun), or by using words and imagery that hint at the future. It's all fair game.

Check out our discussion of foreshadowing in W.W. Jacobs's The Monkey's Paw, Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome, and Markus Zusak's The Book Thief.