The Foreseen Deaths

Cathy Wang
Mrs. Phillips
English 9 Honors
24 May 2013
The Foreseen Deaths
Foreshadowing is a versatile literary device that can be applied in various ways. It appeals to readers’ senses and can increase tension, change the tone, or create a sense of foreboding. Oftentimes, clues presented by foreshadowing go unnoticed until the plot is resolved. In William Shakespeare’s fifteenth century tragedy Romeo and Juliet, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, children of rival families in Verona, fall deeply in love. They seek help from the sagely Friar Lawrence and Juliet’s garrulous nurse in order to get married. Unfortunately, with fate and the two families’ mutual hostility working against the star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet’s lives take a fatal turn. Shakespeare’s use of foreshadowing in Romeo and Juliet especially focuses on the deaths of the couple, per the words of Romeo, Juliet, the Nurse, and Friar Lawrence.
Shakespeare conveys foreshadowing through Romeo’s words about fate and its power over Romeo and Juliet’s lives. Prior to the Montagues’ intrusion to a party at the Capulets’, Romeo expresses his apprehension for the imminent future. In a dream, he senses something foreboding approaching, governed by the greater force of fate. Romeo worries:
I fear, too early: for my mind misgives
Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night's revels and expire the term
Of a despised life closed in my breast
By some vile forfeit of untimely death (1.4.113-118)
He speaks of inevitable death and unchangeable events, and with his words “but he hath the steerage of my course / Direct my sail” (1.4.119-120), Romeo allows fate to lead his future. These words darken the mood and foretell the life-altering events to come. After Romeo and Juliet confess their love for each other, they converse about the misfortune of their birth to opposing families. Romeo does not mind risking the danger of being caught by the Capulets...