Monkey's Paw Foreshadowing

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“The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs follows a family of three who falls into the possession of a mysterious relic. Despite their initial suspicion, the trio comes to learn that the monkey’s paw is capable of granting three wishes, albeit with a price. Throughout his story, W.W. Jacobs utilizes foreshadowing, motifs, and symbolism to teach readers that rash decisions have disastrous results. Early on, Jacobs foreshadows the disastrous consequences of the characters’ choices through the wisdom of Sergeant-Major Morris. The Sergeant-Major tells the family the story of the monkey’s paw and advises them not to wish upon it. He tells them that he won't sell it because “it has caused [him] enough trouble already,” (Jacobs 3). Hearing Morris’s history …show more content…

From the first paragraph, where the reader is introduced to the family of three, to the three knocks from Herbert at the end of the story, this motif is everywhere. Sergeant-Major Morris introduces the monkey’s paw by telling the Whites that “three different men could each have three different wishes from it,” (Jacobs 2). Mr. White ends up being the third man to own the talisman. Jacobs could’ve used any number for each of these instances, yet he chooses the number three because of its connection to his main idea. Not only are threes often used to represent the supernatural, they are also part of a famous saying: bad luck comes in threes. The end results of all of the White family’s decisions are disastrous and Jacob’s motif of threes represents this. Sets of three–wishes, knocks, families–all lead to destruction in this story, similar to the common warning. Implementing this saying into his work gives Jacobs the opportunity to highlight the negative events of his story, and thus his theme. The use of threes serves to solidify the concept that rash decisions lead to …show more content…

White’s life to emphasize the theme of his story. Throughout this game, Mr. White could be seen “putting his king into sharp and unnecessary danger,” (Jacobs 1). Very quickly, the man loses. This chess game is a direct reflection of Mr. White’s fatal flaw in his real life. He repeatedly makes dangerous, rash decisions that lead to his downfall. This flaw of his can be easily identified later in the story when he wishes on the monkey’s paw despite the warnings of Sergeant-Major Morris and causes his son’s death. The effects of rashness are on a much smaller scale in the chess game, but it is that fact that makes the chess game all the more important. The simplicity and familiarity of Mr. White’s situation in chess make the theme much more obvious to readers. Jacobs makes the idea that rashness leads to disaster obvious here so that the reader is predisposed to recognize this theme when it is subtler. The author emphasizes his theme on multiple occasions throughout the story and for the reader to get a full understanding, it is important that they identify as many of those instances as possible. Not only does Jacobs use literary devices to establish his theme, but he also uses them to instill that theme into his readers’

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