“The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs- Summary, Analysis, Characters & Themes

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About the Story: The Monkey’s Paw

TitleThe Monkey’s Paw
AuthorW. W. Jacobs
GenreShort story, horror
SettingWorking-class neighborhood in England
PlotAn old soldier gives a couple a monkey’s paw that is said to grant three wishes. The couple is skeptical, but they eventually make a wish for £200, which they believe will solve all their financial problems. However, the wish comes with a terrible price, and the couple is forced to confront the consequences of their actions.
ThemesGreed, the dangers of wishing, the power of suggestion, fate, the supernatural
CharactersMr. and Mrs. White, their son Herbert, an old soldier
SymbolismThe monkey’s paw, the money, the knocking on the door
Literary devicesFirst-person narration, dialogue, foreshadowing, irony
StyleJacobs’s prose is characterized by its use of vivid imagery, suspense, and a sense of foreboding.
Critical reception“The Monkey’s Paw” is considered to be one of Jacobs’s most popular and enduring works. It has been praised for its chilling atmosphere and its exploration of timeless themes.

Analysis: The Monkey’s Paw

The Monkey’s Paw” is a spooky story by W. W. Jacobs about a magical monkey’s paw that grants its owner three wishes.. The White family receives the paw and wishes for money, but they soon discover that every wish comes with a price. The story builds suspense as the family faces unexpected and tragic outcomes. Ultimately, “The Monkey’s Paw” serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of tampering with destiny and the unintended consequences of our desires.

Characters: The Monkey’s Paw

The characters of “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs are:

  1. Mr. White: The father in the story. He is curious and tempted by the magical powers of the monkey’s paw.
  2. Mrs. White: The mother. She is initially skeptical about the monkey’s paw’s powers but becomes desperate to use it later in the story.
  3. Herbert White: The son. He is carefree and skeptical about the paw’s supposed magical abilities.
  4. Sergeant-Major Morris: The friend who introduces the monkey’s paw to the White family. He warns them about the consequences of using it.

Themes: The Monkey’s Paw

The themes of “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs are:

  1. Fate and Consequences: The story explores the idea that our choices and desires can have unexpected and serious consequences, highlighting the unpredictable nature of fate.
  2. Greed and Temptation: The characters’ desire for more than they have leads them to make a dangerous wish on the monkey’s paw, emphasizing the destructive power of unchecked greed.
  3. Supernatural vs. Reality: “The Monkey’s Paw” blurs the line between the supernatural and reality, creating a sense of suspense and questioning the boundaries between the natural and the unknown.
  4. The Fragility of Life: The narrative looks into the delicate balance of life and death, showing how even seemingly innocent wishes can disrupt the natural order and result in tragic outcomes.
  5. Parental Love: The story touches upon the theme of parental love, as the characters’ actions are driven by their concern for their son. It adds a human and emotional layer to the tale.

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The Monkey’s Paw Summary

Once upon a time in a small, quaint village, there lived a humble family by the name of White – Mr. White, his wife Mrs. White, and their son Herbert. They resided in a cozy cottage, content with their simple life. One evening, a visitor, Sergeant-Major Morris, came to their home, bearing tales of his travels in distant lands. Amidst the flickering flames of the fireplace, the conversation took an eerie turn as the old soldier presented a peculiar object – the Monkey’s Paw.

The Monkey’s Paw, as Morris explained, possessed magical powers, granting its possessor three wishes. However, he warned that the wishes came at a great cost and were accompanied by unforeseen consequences. The Whites, intrigued by the supernatural charm of the paw, couldn’t resist the temptation it offered.

The skeptical Herbert, who had a practical and rational mindset, dismissed the notion of the paw’s powers. Despite Morris’s grim warnings, Mr. White, guided by his curiosity, wished for two hundred pounds. The room fell silent for a moment before Morris, visibly disturbed, took his leave, cautioning the family once more about the potential consequences of their desires.

Days passed, and the White family resumed their normal routine, almost forgetting about the peculiar Monkey’s Paw. However, fate had its own plans. The next day, a knock echoed through their door, and a representative from Maw and Meggins, a company Herbert worked for, delivered the tragic news of their son’s death in a machinery accident. The grief-stricken family found themselves facing the harsh reality of the Monkey’s Paw’s dark influence.

Overwhelmed by sorrow, Mrs. White couldn’t accept the loss of her son. In a desperate attempt to change their fate, she persuaded Mr. White to use the second wish to bring Herbert back to life. Ignoring the warnings and haunted by grief, Mr. White wished for his son’s return, unable to comprehend the consequences of meddling with the natural order.

The room grew tense, and the silence was shattered by the sound of knocking. The couple, filled with hope and trepidation, rushed to the door, anticipating their son’s return. However, to their horror, the door remained closed, and the knocking ceased. The resurrected Herbert, now a ghastly specter, was nowhere to be seen. The Monkey’s Paw had twisted their wish, bringing back a son they could hardly recognize – a gruesome mockery of life.

As the realization of the paw’s malevolence set in, the Whites were overcome with terror. The once cozy cottage now felt suffocating, haunted by the consequences of their desires. The ghostly apparition of Herbert, a stark reminder of their ill-fated wishes, lingered in the shadows.

Desperation consumed Mrs. White, and in a fit of panic, she implored Mr. White to use the final wish to undo the nightmare they had unleashed. Despite the warnings and the evident horror before them, the grief-stricken father, torn between love and fear, wished for the apparition of Herbert to disappear.

The cottage plunged into darkness, and an eerie stillness settled over the room. The couple waited with bated breath, unsure of the paw’s final act. Slowly, the supernatural presence lifted, leaving the Whites in a cold, empty silence. The Monkey’s Paw had granted their final wish, but the heavy toll it extracted lingered in the air.

As dawn broke, the once-happy cottage stood as a somber testament to the consequences of tampering with fate. The Whites, now broken and haunted, were left to grapple with the consequences of their insatiable desires. The Monkey’s Paw, discarded and forgotten, served as a chilling reminder of the thin line between wishes and nightmares.

In the aftermath, the village murmured about the tragic fate of the White family, warning others to steer clear of the mysterious paw. The supernatural artifact, once a source of curiosity, became a symbol of the dangers that lurked in the realm of the unknown.

The Monkey’s Paw had woven a tale of tragedy, illustrating the fragility of human desires and the devastating price of meddling with forces beyond comprehension. The quaint village, once oblivious to the supernatural, now bore witness to the shattered lives of the Whites, a cautionary tale echoing through the ages.

And so, the Monkey’s Paw, with its dark secrets and ominous power, faded into the depths of the unknown, leaving behind a legacy of sorrow and regret. The Whites, scarred by the consequences of their wishes, served as a solemn reminder to those who dared to tamper with the threads of destiny. The tale of the Monkey’s Paw lingered in the village’s collective memory, a chilling narrative that whispered through generations, urging caution and humility in the face of the unknown.


What is the story monkey’s paw about?

“The Monkey’s Paw” is about a magical paw that grants three wishes but brings unintended and tragic consequences to a family.

What is the main idea of the monkey’s paw?

The story warns against the dangers of interfering with the natural order of things, as exemplified by Mr. White’s tragic wish to bring his dead son back to life.

What were the 3 wishes in the monkey’s paw?

The 3 wishes were for money, the return of their son, and his disappearance.

What happens to Herbert in the monkey’s paw?

Herbert dies in a gruesome machine accident, his body so mangled it is barely recognizable.

Why did Sergeant give the monkey’s paw to Mr White?

Sergeant-Major Morris gave the monkey’s paw to Mr. White as a warning about the dangers of interfering with fate.

What did Mr White wish for?

Mr. White wished for 200 pounds to replace the money his son lost at work.

What happens at the end of a monkey’s paw?

Desperate to undo their wish for their son’s return, the Whites use their final wish to silence the horrifying knocking at their door.

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