Foreshadowing is one of my favorite concepts to teach. To teach the literary device of foreshadowing, my class analyzes various movie clips in order to build a connection with our weekly stories.
In eighth grade ELA, we read a really neat short story called “A Monkey’s Paw,” by W.W. Jacobs. It tells the story of a mysterious monkey’s paw, akin to a lucky rabbit’s foot, that has magical abilities to grant wishes. However, be careful what you wish for is definitely the main theme in this story.
Four Types of Foreshadowing
W.W. Jacobs displays all sorts of foreshadowing throughout which aligns with the spooky tone of the story. The four types of foreshadowing we explored were abstract, prophecy, fallacy, and concrete foreshadowing. To delve into the four types of foreshadowing, we watched various movie clips.
Abstract foreshadowing is when the reader must think outside of the box to determine if something will turn out to be foreshadowing. We watched Finding Nemo clips that exemplified this. When Nemo is in the fish tank in the dentist’s office, a person holding a fishnet scoops him up. Instantly, the other fish jump in and swim down to make the net heavier. This makes the person holding the net drop it. The scene is mimicked later in the movie when a fishing boat scoops up hundreds of fish. Nemo and his father hop in to tell the fish to swim down. This makes the net heavier and then it breaks from the fishing boat, releasing the fish.
We watched a Lion King clip in which a young Simba is with his father under the night sky. Mufasa explains how their guardians are in the starry sky and that Simba will never be alone. They will be there to guide him. Mufasa says, “Those kings will be there to guide you and so will I.” We discussed how this was prophecy foreshadowing because Mufasa later does in fact die and helps guide him from the stars.
Pathetic fallacy foreshadowing is when a setting or mood forewarns of what is to come in a scene. For example, rain creates a sad mood, whereas thunder and lightning create an angry mood. In Lion King, when Scar has taken over the Prideland, the dead trees and barren land foreshadow and symbolize how Scar has destroyed the kingdom and is a horrible ruler. On the other hand, Lion King’s opening scene with the sunshine and the strong rock foreshadows happy times in the beginning.
Concrete foreshadowing is what we typically think of when we think of foreshadowing: an author giving a blatant clue that they are forewarning us of the main event soon to come. It is so obvious that the reader can recognize it almost immediately before they even know what is going to happen.
In Frozen 2, Anna and Elsa’s mother sings a lullaby, All is Found.” In the song, the lyrics “For in this river all is found in her waters, deep and true lie the answers,” foreshadow blatantly that the river holds the answers to the past.
After each movie clip, we discussed how it relates to each specific type of foreshadowing. Students then fill out a google slide graphic organizer detailing the four types of foreshadowing found in our short story.
I was able to use YouTube to find these movie clips very quickly. A search on the internet shows so many examples of movie clips connecting to language arts objectives. It is a neat way to analyze some familiar movies, connect it to stories, and have some fun in the process while teaching the literary device or foreshadowing.