An important moment of foreshadowing occurs in Chapter 1 of Howards End when Helen remarks in a letter to Margaret that the Wilcox family are “keen on games.” Forster uses this seemingly innocent comment to foreshadow their tendency to manipulate people:
Later on I heard the noise of croquet balls, and looked out again, and it was Charles Wilcox practising; they are keen on all games.
Helen remarks on the Wilcoxes' enthusiasm for games, specifically croquet, which at the time had come to symbolize leisurely upper-class country entertainment. However, the use of the word "games" takes on a double meaning in this context. While it initially refers to the literal sports the Wilcoxes play, it could also be interpreted as a reference to the Wilcox family's manipulative behavior towards other people. They later repeatedly demonstrate this in their dealings with the Schlegels.
This quote also provides insight into the Wilcoxes' character and their lifestyle at Howards End. They are portrayed as wealthy and leisurely, with ample free time to devote to hobbies like croquet. Their lifestyle in the country and the peaceful, unpretentious setting of Howards End belies the actual character of the Wilcox family. Although they initially seem like typical, slightly haughty aristocrats, many of them are later shown to be manipulative to the core.
Furthermore, the use of the word "practising" suggests that the Wilcoxes approach their games with a competitive mindset, always striving to improve and succeed. This competitive spirit can also be seen in their social interactions, as they constantly strive to gain advantage and maintain their social status. This is quite the opposite of the Schlegel approach to things.
This passage from Chapter 2 contains vivid visual imagery that describes the contrast between the natural and urban environments in London. It also outlines and foreshadows the rapid changes to London currently happening and still to come:
One had the sense of a backwater, or rather of an estuary, whose waters flowed in from the invisible sea, and ebbed into a profound silence while the waves without were still beating. Though the promontory consisted of flats—expensive, with cavernous entrance halls, full of concierges and palms—it fulfilled its purpose, and gained for the older houses opposite a certain measure of peace. These, too, would be swept away in time, and another promontory would rise upon their site, as humanity piled itself higher and higher on the precious soil of London.
The visual imagery of the ocean community being “swept away” and reforming itself, and the auditory language of the sound of the waves, evoke a sense of natural continuity and flow. The architecture of London is aligned with the sea in this passage, which like its buildings rises and falls rhythmically. The imagery of the promontory rising and the old houses being swept away also conveys a sense of impermanence and transience in the face of constant change. The promontory in the above passage, with its “expensive flats” and “cavernous entrance halls,” also references the encroachment of the urban world on the natural environment of England.