Foreshadowing In Romeo And Juliet Act 2

What are two examples of foreshadowing in Act 2 of Romeo and Juliet and which scene and lines are they in?

In act 2 of Romeo and Juliet, there are examples of foreshadowing in Friar Laurence's soliloquy at the beginning of scene 3, and also in Friar Laurence's words to Romeo just before the marriage in scene 6.

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In Act II, scene iii, Friar is speaking of the power of plants when he notes that the plant has several powers. Plants can be medicinal, and they can be poisonous. As he finishes he uses a metaphor that foreshadows the death of lovers as they are products of kings:

Two such opposed kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will;
And where the worser is predominant,
Full soon the canker death eats up that plant.

Later, in scene iv, Mercutio and Benvolio are talking about Romeo when Mercutio notes that Romeo's love for Rosaline is killing him. Little does Mercutio know that Romoe's love is not for Rosaline, but for Juliet, and that her love will literally kill him:

Alas poor Romeo! he is already dead; stabbed with a
white wench's black eye; shot through the ear with a
love-song; the very pin of his heart cleft with the
blind bow-boy's butt-shaft

Mercutio uses language figuratively here as hyperbole or exaggeration, but the foreshadow is clear. Love will kill Romeo.

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During the famous balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet, Act II.ii, Romeo says:

I have night's cloak to hide me from their sight;
And but thou love me, let them find me here:
My life were better ended by their hate,
Than death prorogued, wanting of thy love.

This is foreshadowing, as Romeo introduces the idea of dying "wanting of thy love."  This, of course, will happen in Act V.  Romeo will ingest poison and die wanting of Juliet's love.

Later, Romeo says:

O blessed, blessed night! I am afeard.
Being in night, all this is but a dream,
Too flattering-sweet to be substantial.

Mercutio has already talked of dreams in his famous Queen Mab speech, which is also ominous foreshadowing (but in Act I).  Here, Romeo sees his encounter with Juliet as a dream, not reality.  This foreshadows the fleeting nature of his rushed and secret marriage to Juliet.  It is not "substantial" because it is done with such haste, in secret, and without the proper permissions granted.

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Not only would many in Shakespeare's audience have been familiar with the oral tradition of these star-crossed lovers, but the prologue has told them that Romeo and Juliet will eventually die because their "star-crossed" love will lead them to that end.

Therefore, the play is full of reminders that falling in love with Juliet will eventually bring Romeo's death. Her cousin Tybalt spots Romeo at the Capulet party, and he was incensed by the presence of a Montague. Juliet touches on the possible outcome of this in these lines:

The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,
And the place death, considering who thou art,
If any of my kinsmen find thee here. (II.ii.67–69)

Tybalt has found Romeo on the Capulet's property, and he will call for "death" because of who Romeo is. Because of Tybalt's anger, there will be death when Tybalt comes looking for Romeo. Mercutio will die defending the honor of his friend, and Tybalt will die in Romeo's passionate act of avenging the death of his friend.

When Romeo goes to talk to Friar Lawrence about his new and passionate love for Juliet, the friar is completely taken aback. After all, Romeo has been moping around for days, completely dejected about Rosaline's rejection. He questions the sincerity of Romeo's feelings toward Juliet, and Romeo reminds the Friar that he had chided Romeo for his feelings about Rosaline:


Thou chid’st me oft for loving Rosaline.


For doting, not for loving, pupil mine.


And badest me bury love.

Not in a grave,
To lay one in, another out to have. (II.iii.82–86)

The Friar juxtaposes Romeo's love with the imagery of death in these lines, which foreshadows the eventual ending for the young couple.

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When Romeo sneaks into the garden beneath Juliet's balcony, he overhears her speaking to herself about him. After he reveals his presence to her, she expresses her concern that her family would kill Romeo if they found him there. He responds, "My life were better ended by their hate / Than death prorogued, wanting of thy life" (2.282–83). In other words, he says that he would rather die a quick death than to live a long life without her love. This foreshadows Romeo's actual death later in the play. When he believes that Juliet has died, he takes his own life with a vial of poison rather than survive and have to live without her.

Romeo is put in that position in the first place because Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, challenges him to a duel. In his hatred of Romeo, Tybalt seeks Romeo the day after the party at Lord Capulet's, though Romeo refuses to fight him because he has just married Juliet. When Mercutio steps up to fight Tybalt, believing Romeo to be acting like a coward, Tybalt kills Mercutio, and so Romeo kills Tybalt. Thus, indirectly, Romeo's life is brought to an end as a result of Tybalt's hate, just as he said he would prefer rather than living a long life without Juliet.

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Act 2, scene 3 begins with a soliloquy delivered by Friar Laurence. In this soliloquy he talks about the plants he is growing, and about the medicinal and poisonous properties of those plants. He says that the medicine derived from one plant can be poisonous if administered in the wrong dose, just as the poison from another plant might be medicinal if administered in the right dose. The broader point here is that something good can turn into something bad if it is taken in the wrong dose. Or, as Friar Laurence puts it:

Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied;

And vice sometimes by action dignified.

This idea can be applied to the love between Romeo and Juliet, and indeed foreshadows what becomes of that love. Their love is a good thing, which, like medicine, makes them feel better, but because they love too intensely, it becomes poisonous and ends in tragedy.

In act 2, scene 6, just before Romeo and Juliet are married, Friar Laurence says to Romeo:

These violent delights have violent ends

And in their triumph die, like fire and powder.

Here, Friar Laurence is warning Romeo not to love too violently or recklessly. He says that emotions or "delights" which are too "violent" will inevitably lead to "violent ends." Romeo and Juliet are guilty of loving too violently because they are impatient and infatuated with one another. They consider only their love and nothing else. In the second part of the quote, Friar Laurence compares this type of reckless love to "fire and powder," meaning gunpowder. The image evoked here is of a trail of gunpowder set alight, culminating in a violent explosion at the end of the trail. This is a fitting analogy for Romeo and Juliet's love, and foreshadows the violent, tragic end to which their love eventually comes.

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Act 2 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a treasure trove of foreshadowing. It's as if Shakespeare couldn't resist telling us what's going to happen to the star-crossed lovers so that we anticipate every moment of their short lives together.

In act 2, scene 2, the famous balcony scene, Juliet expresses her fear for Romeo's safety:

JULIET: How cam'st thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?

The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,

And the place death, considering who thou art,

If any of my kinsmen find thee here.

. . . If they do see thee, they will murder thee. . . .

ROMEO: I have night's cloak to hide me from their eyes;

And but thou love me, let them find me here.

My life were better ended by their hate

Than death prorogued, wanting of thy love. [2.2.66–82]

Romeo says that he would rather die quickly at the hands of the Capulets than to live a long life without her love. At the end of the play, thinking that Juliet is dead, Romeo chooses to take his own life rather than live without her.

At the end of scene 2, Juliet speaks the words that everyone knows, but not before hinting at what's to come in their relationship.

ROMEO: I would I were thy bird.

JULIET: Sweet, so would I.

Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.

Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,

That I shall say good night till it be morrow. [2.2.195–199]

In Friar Laurence's cell in scene 3, when the Friar agrees to marry Romeo and Juliet, Romeo urges him to marry them as soon as possible.

ROMEO: O, let us hence! I stand on sudden haste.

FRIAR LAURENCE: Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast. [2.3.96–97]

Since they first met, Romeo and Juliet have been running very fast into their relationship, which only hastens their deaths.

Back in Friar Laurence's cell a few scenes later, Romeo and Juliet are about to be married. Friar Laurence says he hopes all will be well, and Romeo speaks some fateful words.

FRIAR LAURENCE: So smile the heavens upon this holy act

That after-hours with sorrow chide us not!

ROMEO: Amen, amen! But come what sorrow can,

It cannot countervail the exchange of joy

That one short minute gives me in her sight.

Do thou but close our hands with holy words,

Then love-devouring death do what he dare—

It is enough I may but call her mine. [2.6.1–8]

"Love-devouring death" does, in fact, do "what he dare," and Romeo chooses to end his life to "call her mine" forever.

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Whenever one is asked to find evidence of foreshadowing in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, look to the Prologue, Chorus, or Romeo's dialogue for answers. The Chorus is the voice of Fate which is like an omniscient narrator guiding the audience along through the warnings at the beginning of acts. Romeo is very in tune with Fate and has dreams that he feels warn him about the future. Both of these are places where foreshadowing is found. For example, the Chorus explains the current situation at the beginning of act 2 and explains that lovers usually have time and means to meet to express "vows" to each other, "but passion lends them power, time means, to meet,/ Temp'ring extremities with extreme sweet" (II.Prologue.13-14).

Another quote that has foreshadowing elements happens before Romeo and Juliet are married and Romeo is talking with Friar Lawrence: "The love-devouring Death do what he dare;/It is enough I may but call her mine" (II.iv.7-8). It's as if with this quote Romeo is tempting death or fate to intervene!


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One good instance of foreshadowing can be found in the famous balcony scene. Juliet feels that exchanging vows of love "is too rash, to unadvis'd, too sudden" (II.ii.124). In other words, she believes that they are acting foolishly. She couples her opinion with a simile declaring that vows of love are "[t]oo like the lightning, which doth cease to be / Ere one can say 'it lightens' (II.ii.125). This simile serves to compare love to a passionate fire, like lightening, that flares up and dies suddenly. Since this simile refers to an image of death, specifically death of lightening, it can be seen as foreshadowing the couple's upcoming deaths.

A second instance of foreshadowing can also be seen in this scene when Juliet speaks directly of death. Juliet says she wishes Romeo was her pet bird so that she can keep him trapped near her all the time. When Romeo replies, "I would I were thy bird," Juliet warns that if he were, should would be likely to "kill [him] with [too] much cherishing," meaning hugging, petting, and kissing until the bird suffocated. This metaphorical reference to killing Romeo with love as a pet bird can easily be seen as foreshadowing Romeo's upcoming death.

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