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Foreshadowing or adumbrating is a literary device in which an author hints certain plot developments that perhaps will come to be later in the story. It is used to arouse the reader, viewer or listener about how the story will proceed and mentally prepare them for how it will unfold.
A hint that is designed to mislead the audience is referred to as a red herring. A similar device is the flashforward (also known as prolepsis). However, foreshadowing only hints at a possible outcome within the confinement of a narrative, while a flashforward is an interrupted scene that takes the narrative forward in time from the current point of the story in literature, film, television, and other media.
An example of foreshadowing from the book trilogy and its screen adaptation The Lord of the Rings:
This conversation foreshadows the fact that later in the story Frodo himself pities Gollum and is unable to kill him. For a last-minute change of heart against doing so. Gollum then inadvertently makes it possible to destroy the Ring, which is the whole point of Frodo's and the rest of the central characters' quest.
Foreshadowing can be carried out by characters predicting the future. Cassandra in The Iliad has the explicit ability to foresee the future and make a prophecy. She predicts that her son will come to a bad end[which?] if he doesn't change his ways or character[how?]. Similarly, omens, such as breaking a mirror, can be used to foreshadow bad luck.