Seems a Fate in It: Misdirection and Foreshadowing in Bleak House and A Pair of Blue Eyes
Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Seems a Fate in It: Misdirection and Foreshadowing in Bleak House and A Pair of Blue Eyes


Foreshadowing in a novel would seem to imply that that novel takes place in a world of fate, but Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and Thomas Hardy’s A Pair of Blue Eyes complicate this assumption. Instead of directly arguing against a world of fate, however, their foreshadowing techniques present fate as a subjective experience, most likely shared by people who have been trained to read their own lives novelistically. While Dickens’s novel shows readers a meaningful world in which all secret plot information will be revealed eventually, Hardy’s novel stresses readers’ inability to know the whole story and teases them with withheld information all the way to its end.

In this thesis, I attempt to explore foreshadowing in especially cryptic passages of Bleak House and A Pair of Blue Eyes.  In Bleak House, I focus on the foreshadowing in the scenes leading up to Krook and Tulkinghorn’s deaths.  In A Pair of Blue Eyes, my focus is less chapter-centric, although I spend considerable time examining Henry Knight’s near-death experience on the Cliff Without a Name.  Much of the critical framework for my close readings comes from Peter Brook’s Reading for the Plot and Michael André Bernstein’s Foregone Conclusions.  While Reading for the Plot supplements my commentary on repetition’s relation to resolution in a plot, Foregone Conclusions gives me the vocabulary to discuss different types of foreshadowing and their effects.

Although these critics, and others, inform my work, I add my own perspective on the features of foreshadowing, by looking at how readers’ experiences of foreshadowing change when they re-read a text.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View