Orwell uses foreshadowing in 1984 to create a claustrophobic environment and a sense of foreboding, beginning with the poster in Winston’s building reminding everyone that BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.
Winston’s betrayal of Julia
The popular songs in 1984 serve as foreshadowing details, especially the lines “They’ve stolen my heart away” and “Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me.” The latter song also relates to the Chestnut Tree Café, where Winston sees Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford shortly before they become “unpersons.” The rhyme “Oranges and Lemons” ends in “Here comes a chopper to chop off your head,” invoking a past age of public executions. When Winston and Julia meet in the secret room, he worries about being forced to confess. Julia reassures him that the Party may be able to make him confess, but that making him stop loving her is “the one thing they cannot do.” This turns out to be false, or ironic foreshadowing, because it is in fact exactly what the Party does.
Winston’s betrayal of the Party
Foreshadowing actions underscore the danger Winston has placed himself in. After writing “Down with Big Brother” in his diary, he enters Mrs. Parsons’ apartment, where her two children chase each other around him, shouting “Traitor!” and “Thought criminal!” in his direction. This foreshadows that Winston will be declared a traitor and thought criminal later in the book and triggers Winston’s paranoia, reminding him that he has broken laws and could be arrested at any time. At the Ministry of Truth, Winston reflects that Syme will be vaporized eventually because he’s too smart and takes risks that the Party generally frowns on. This foreshadows that Winston will be vaporized as well.
Winston’s misreading of Julia and O’Brien
Winston keeps seeing Julia, which foreshadows that she will be important to the story. However, in a case of false foreshadowing, he believes she is a spy, and at first is terrified of her. The switch between Winston’s perception and reality foreshadows that he will be proven wrong about othe characters, namely Mr. Charrington and O’Brien. Foreshadowing is also suggested in the scene in which Winston and Julia conspire with O’Brien to join the supposed revolution, the Brotherhood. Beyond the similarity in the names Brotherhood and Big Brother, the Brotherhood asks for unquestioning loyalty to the cause and rigidly controls information, foreshadowing that their purpose is less than democratic. The questions Winston is made to answer, whether he is willing to forfeit his identity and his life, foreshadow that he will be made to do so.
Winston’s beating and torture
When Winston and Julia meet in secret, the rat poking its head out of the wall in their rented room foreshadows that they are being watched, as well as foreshadowing the cage of rats in Room 101 that the Party uses to torture Winston. Orwell also subtly invokes the slang term “to rat [someone] out,” foreshadowing Winston’s and Julia’s betrayal of one another in the Ministry of Love. And Julia says “It’s sure to be full of bugs,” referring to the bed, which foreshadows the fact that they are being listened to in the secret room. Winston’s beating and torture by the though police is also foreshadowed when he first believes the Thought Police are following him, and dreads “the groveling on the floor and screaming for mercy, the crack of broken bones, the smashed teeth and bloody clots of hair.” This very closely describes what happens to him later in the book when he is tortured and forced to confess.