Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet used the literary device of foreshadowing to advance the tragic story of two teenage lovers. Foreshadowing was a warning or indication of an event that came later in the story. Shakespeare used many examples of foreshadowing to show an indication of the death or grave future of somebody. Shakespeare uses a few motifs, or reoccurring events, to tell the future.
In Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare references light and dark to show the love of the couple and the consequences. Romeo compares Juliet to light a few times during the play. When Romeo first sees her he says “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!” (I.v.43). He is saying that she is so beautiful that she outshines all the other girls. Juliet compares Romeo with a light that illuminates the dark:
JULIET: Take Romeo and cut him out into little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun. (3.2.23-6)
Here Romeo, transformed into a shimmering star forever, becomes the very definition of light, outshining even the sun. One of the more important instances of this motif is Romeo’s lengthy meditation on the sun and the moon during the balcony scene, in which Juliet, metaphorically described as the sun, is seen as “banishing the envious moon” and transforming the night into day (II.i.46). This symbolizes that the love of Romeo and Juliet will banish all darkness and make the darkness into light. This is kind of ironic because their love eventually does the exact opposite.
Another motif used by Shakespeare is poison. One use of poison is to give the reader a clue about a future death. After Romeo is banished by Escalus, Friar Lawrence tells Romeo to be grateful he is not dead, and Romeo says, “And sayest thou yet that exile is not death? Hadst thou no poison mix, no sharp ground knife ” (III.iii.45-46). Romeo believes that being banished is worse than death, but later on Romeo dies because of poison. This is foreshadowing the death of Romeo. Poison also shows up when Juliet proclaims that she does not want to marry Paris. She visits Friar and Friar devises a plan for Juliet to fake her death:
FRIAR LAWRENCE: Take thou this vial, being then in bed,
And this distilled liquor drink thou off;
When presently through all thy veins shall run
A cold and drowsy humour, for no pulse
Shall keep his native progress, but surcease:
No warmth, no breath, shall testify thou livest;
The roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade (IV.iv.96-102)
The poison given to Juliet will make her pass out, but this is foreshadowing the death of her, Romeo, and Paris. Romeo will think that Juliet is dead, so he will buy a poison to kill himself, kill Paris, and this causes Juliet kills herself. Poison symbolizes human society’s tendency to poison good things and make them...