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What are three examples of foreshadowing in Othello, Act 4, Scene 3?

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In Othello Act 4, scene 3, there are three examples of foreshadowing:

  • The rough speech of Othello and Desdemona’s obedience serve as a prerequisite for an upcoming disaster.
  • The choice of wedding sheets indicated future horror.
  • Desdemona’s ‘Willow song,’ which predicts her death.

Detailed answer:

The variety of themes and conflicts in Shakespeare’s Othello makes the recipient dwell upon each scene. It makes the readers search for the subtext that anticipates further events in the play. Such a literary device is called foreshadowing. It helps the author to give the reader an explicit hint on further plot development.

Foreshadowing can be exposed in various forms. Some of the most widespread ones are:

  • the titles of the sub-chapters;
  • the dialogues of the characters;
  • the story events.

Act IV of Shakespeare’s Othello is primarily focused on the foreshadowing. The prediction effect is done through the characters’ lines. Particular attention is paid to Othello and Desdemona’s lines that are full of allusions and hints for the event development.

Scene 3 from Act IV consists of various foreshadowing elements. The first example is the place where the events occur. Othello sends Desdemona to her room, where later, he will strangle her. He also asks her to dismiss Emilia, thinking of murdering his wife without witnesses:

Get you to bed on the instant; I will be returned
forthwith: dismiss your attendant there: look it be done.
(Act 4, scene 3)

Desdemona obliges, which then infuriates Emilia. The servant cannot comprehend how her mistress lets Othello talk to her like that. Thus, the scene includes implicit references to the trust issues that lead to a disaster in the end.

Another foreshadowing example is the words Desdemona uses, talking about the wedding sheets:

If I do die before thee prithee, shroud me
In one of those same sheets.
(Act 4, scene 3)

She may suspect that Othello is going to do something. The choice of sheets can indicate her willingness to remain loyal and forgiving to her husband. Finally, Desdemona’s Willow song predicts her death at the hands of her beloved husband. Its story is also eloquent, as Desdemona says:

My mother had a maid call’d Barbara:
She was in love, and he she loved proved mad
And did forsake her: she had a song of ‘willow;’
An old thing ’twas, but it express’d her fortune,
And she died singing it: that song to-night
Will not go from my mind;
(Act 4, scene 3)

Singing the song, Desdeoma predicts her impending passing. She will sing it before her death as well.

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IvyPanda. "What are three examples of foreshadowing in Othello, Act 4, Scene 3?" November 19, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-are-three-examples-of-foreshadowing-in-othello-act-4-scene-3/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "What are three examples of foreshadowing in Othello, Act 4, Scene 3?" November 19, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-are-three-examples-of-foreshadowing-in-othello-act-4-scene-3/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'What are three examples of foreshadowing in Othello, Act 4, Scene 3'. 19 November.

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