Foreshadowing In 1984

What are three examples of foreshadowing in 1984?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Orwell utilizes things from the past, fears, and dreams as foreshadowing in his seminal work, 1984.

Here, then, are three examples of foreshadowing:

  • Things from the past

1. Winston's purchase of a diary in a secondhand store in the prole district foreshadows his later arrest because if this diary is found, he will suffer the consequences. While there are no longer any laws making his act illegal, Winston could still be killed.

...if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least twenty-five years in a forced-labor camp. (I, Ch. 1)

In addition, Winston writes subversive thoughts in his diary, thoughts such as "DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER." 

2. While visiting the shop of Mr. Charrington, where he purchases the diary, Winston sees a picture of St. Clements Dane. Along with the rhyme that Charrington partially recites, there is the ending rhyme whose final phrase foreshadows the defeat of Winston and Julia--" comes a chopper to chop off your head." Also, the picture itself later what covers the telescreen in their room where Winston and Julia meet and make love.

  • Fears and Dreams

Winston fears his impending death because he writes in his diary and because he engages in a love affair with Julia. 

Folly, folly, his heart kept saying: conscious, gratuitous suicidal folly! Of all the crimes that a Party member could commit, this one was the least possible to conceal. (II, Ch.4)

3. Winston is terrified of rats. When one pokes its head through a hole in the wall of their secret room, Julia throws a shoe at it. Winston asks her at what she pitched her shoe, and she tells him that it was a rat. "Rats!....In this room!" Winston exclaims in terror as he recalls a nightmare which includes Julia:

He was standing in front of a wall of darkness, and on the other side of it there was something unendurable, something too dreadful to be faced....(II, Ch.4)

This dream, of course, foreshadows Winston's torture in Room 101, and the cage of rats that O'Brien threatens to unleash upon him after his arrest. Winston is so terrified that he betrays Julia.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think one of the major examples you can think about and analyze is the use of dreams in this excellent, terrifying novel. A very important chapter for you to think about as far as dreams are concerned in Chapter 3, where Winston has a dream sequence concerning his Mother and Sister, but then also this dream moves on to include Julia:

The girl with dark hair was coming towards them across the field. With what seemed a single movement she tore off her clothes and flung them disdainfully aside... What overwhelmed him in that instant was admiration for the gesture with which she had thrown her clothes aside. With its grace and carelessness it seemed to annihilate a whole culture, a whole system of thought...

This dream then clearly foreshadows their sexual relationship, and also the way that they are, by their actions, trying to "annihilate a whole culture" by rebelling in such a way and embracing their true human desires and passions. Of course, it is only later on that they find out how futile this attempt is.

There is one example of foreshadowing. Now have another look at the novel and see if you can find some more. Good luck!