In the play, The Winter’s Tale by Shakespeare, there is evidence of foreshadowing. This foreshadowing happens at different intervals of the play, however are all vital in maintaining the audience’s interest and enhancing drama within the plot.
In Act One Scene One, the dialogue between Archidamus and Camillo foreshadows events that will be revealed in the play. The admirable conversation of the King of Sicilia and Bohemia’s bond that has flourished since childhood is seen as unbreakable. The praise given to this friendship gives the audience whim of the downfall that is soon to come. The talk of young Mamillius as
“a gentle man of the greatest promise that ever came into note” (Act 1: Scene 1: Line 32-34)foreshadows the f=death of this young prince. This is solidified By Archidamus’ response that
“if the king had no son, they would desire to live on crutches till he had one” (Act 1: Scene 1: Line 43-44).These small innuendoes disclose to the audience what is to come and urges them to stay tuned. This first scene set the tone for teh rest of the play and gained the audience's interest.
In Act Two, Scene Three, the audience witnesses the revelation of Mamillius sickness since his mother was imprisoned for adultery. Hermione has been separated from her son and sent to prison for allegedly committing adultery with King of Bohemia, Polixenes and conspiring to kill King Leontes with Camillo. She is separated from Mamillius who is quickly affected by her absence. The King asks in dear concern for his only heir,
“How does the boy?” (Act 2: Scene 3: Line 11). The talk of Mamillius as a “gallant child” in Act One has dwindled and the audience begins to fear the worst as the servant replies to the King
“Tis hoped his sickness is discharged” (Act 2: Scene 3: Line 13).In Act Three, Scene Two, King Leontes has called for his prisoner and wife, Hermione to receive the judgement from the Oracle. Many within the Sicilian kingdom have pressured the King to have mercy on his wife as they believe that she in virtuous and innocent. A jealous Leontes has risked a lot with his adulterous accusation, even by shunning Hermione new born daughter, regarding her bastard and having her abandoned in a forest. The judgement of the Oracle is thus important to Leontes to prove those around him wrong and himself right as their supreme ruler. The judgement of the Oracle was retrieved by Cleomenes and Dion, arrives and is read. It states
“Hermione is chaste; Polixenes blameless; Camillo a true subject; Leontes a jealous tyrant; innocent babe truly begotten ad the king shall live without an heir, if that which is lost be not found”, (Act 3; Scene 2: Line 137-141). The subject of Leontes rejoiced in Hermione’s innocence; however Leontes dismissed the Oracle’s prophecy and continues in his jealous tirade. Suddenly, it is reported that Mamillius has passed due to fear that he will lose his mother, and Hermione takes the news as impetus to swoon. The Oracle’s word quickly comes to pass as Hermione is pronounced dead as well. Leontes’ kingdom begins to crumble as he loses his heirs to the throne, the newborn baby is lost. She remains lost for sixteen years. Leontes, the jealous tyrant mourns for these years all whilst still hoping his daughter will be found.
In Act Five, Scene Five, Leontes’ family is restored, ironically joining together his family with that of his child hood friend Polixenes.. Leontes’ begotten daughter, Perdita has agreed to marry the prince of Bohemia, Florizel who knows her as a shepherd girl and not a princess. However, Polixenes disagrees with this marriage which forces the two youth to flee to Sicilia to seek Leontes’ help. It is then revealed that Perdita is Leontes’ living heir and Leontes mourning is dissolved.Paulina who has kept Leontes from marriage over the years has foreshadowed in that action that Hermione was somehow still alive. She reveals a statue of Hermione in her home, which comes to life. Leontes' family is restored and he acknowledged his wrongs.
The foreshadowing techniques that Shakespeare employs aids grasping the audience's attention an dmaintaing it throughout the play. These different aspect of foreshadowing truly emphasises the good quality of work that was produced by the playwright and indeeed deserves great applause.