Foreshadowing in Romeo & Juliet

Williams Shakespeare was generous in his use of foreshadowing in "Romeo and Juliet." The play begins with one of the most obvious examples of this literary technique. The prologue introduces the ancient feud between the Montagues and Capulets. It also introduces Romeo and Juliet as the two lovers who were born into this world and committed suicide because of these two families: "From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life."

In addition to the prologue, the entire play is rich with examples of this literary tool. Both Romeo and Juliet continually refer to death, murder and suicide. Juliet says, "My grave is like to be my wedding bed," and Romeo threatens to commit suicide after killing Tybalt. Foreshadowing is also weaved into Friar Laurence's dialogue: "These violent delights have violent ends, And in their triumph die, like fire and powder."

Perhaps the most chilling example of preparing the reader for the ending is when both Romeo and Juliet refer to one another as pale looking. Juliet says "Methinks I see thee, now thou art below, As one dead in the bottom of a tomb: Either my eyesight fails, or thou look'st pale." Romeo answers "And trust me, love, in my eye so do you."

One of the last examples is Romeo's description of his dream: "I dreamt my lady came and found me dead-- Strange dream, that gives a dead man leave to think!-- And breathed such life with kisses in my lips."

Foreshadowing in Major Literary Works