Foreshadow-Anticipation of plot

julipaz

Member
Spanish-Argentina
Hi Everybody! This is my first time, so be patient! My students and I are reading "Arms and the man" by B. Shaw. I have a doubt with the literature term 'foreshadow'. I know it gives the reader a hint about a coming event. But when Catherine says " Do you suppose they would hesitate to kill you-or worse?" (They=Serbs or Austrian officers); I would not say that it is anticipating what is coming next, it is just the opposite! Captain Bluntschli enters Raina's bedchamber and in a way, asks for help, instead of shooting at her. I cannot say either that is the opposite of foreshadow, 'cause it is not a 'flashback'! I do not consider that it might be taken as 'situation irony', for it is Catherine who's expecting this to happen (being killed by a Serb in any situation) and not the reader. Shall I call it FORESHADOW all the same? I believe the same device is used in "Titanic" when someone says "Not even God can sink this ship". Am I right?
Thanks in advance!
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hello julipaz - welcome to the forums:)

    Like you, I would feel uncomfortable using "foreshadow" to refer to something that doesn't actually anticipate a subsequent development in the plot.

    Could you perhaps simply say that the writer is "heightening the tension" by putting those words into the character's mouth?
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    I agree that "foreshadowing" isn't a perfect fit in this situation, at least not as we usually see it employed or applied. That said, one could argue that a dramatic confrontation or meeting is being foreshadowed.
     

    julipaz

    Member
    Spanish-Argentina
    Thank you for your quick response! The same happens when Raina says "This is the happiest night of my life-if only there are no fugitives" (and, as I have already mentioned, a stranger enters her room). Do you think I might call it ANTICIPATION OF PLOT?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi again, julipaz.

    I've been looking at the text (here).

    I'd say the various references to fugitives - and to the importance of locking shutters which we then learn have a missing bolt - are all "building up" to the moment where the fugitive bursts in through the shutters.

    I don't think I'd call it anticipation, not least since the references are followed in fairly quick succession by the fugitive's arrival.

    That said, it's many years since I did any literary criticism:D

    EDIT: looking back a biblio's post, I agree with his last comment: you could say that the references "foreshadow" the dramatic arrival of the fugitive.
     
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