Situational Irony In The Monkeys Paw

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In W. W. Jacobs’ short story, “The Monkey’s Paw,” the White family’s innocent want for a better life is challenged when a magical talisman plagues their family through its wishes. When faced with death, humans have different ways of dealing with the rollercoaster of feelings that accompanies it. The family has to overcome grief, disappointment, and anger as they live their lives without their son. Through these emotions, the characters are being taught not to act foolishly, but they never learn. Through foreshadowing and situational irony, the story “The Monkey’s Paw” conveys the theme of how innocent intentions can have terrible repercussions. At the beginning of the story, Sergeant-Major Morris explains the mystery and wonder of the monkey’s…show more content…
White knows that her wish will bring only more disappointment to her, so he decides to make the final wish that their son Herbert will leave and not return. Majority of their wishes are innocent and they are only trying to bring their happiness back, but this wish is harsher. There are a few sudden knocks on the front door after Mrs. White makes her wish. Mr. White knows it is Herbert at the door and that he has to do something before it is too late. “If he [can] only find it before the thing outside [gets] in. A perfect fusillade of knocks [reverberates] through the house, and he [hears] the scraping of a chair as his wife [puts] it down in the passage against the door. He [hears] the creaking of the bolt as it [comes] slowly back and at the same moment he [finds] the monkey’s paw, and frantically [breathes] his third and last wish” (Jacobs 13). He wishes for their son to leave and not return again. At that same moment, the knocking stops and his wife opens the door. When she opens the door and sees nothing outside, she lets out a loud wail of sadness and disappointment (Jacobs 14). Arthur St. John Adcock is an English novelist and poet as well as a journalist. He mentions that “the uncanny grimness of ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by a pathos that is wrought to a pitch of almost painful intensity when the knock comes on the door at night and the heart-broken mother, after struggling desperately with the bolts, flings the door open and there is nothing there” (Adcock 3). The family makes an avoidable mistake by wishing with the monkey’s paw, but when they finally realize that, it is already too late. Their first innocent wish flips their lives upside down and they bring themselves irreversible pain and sorrow through a few words. Carl Mowery, a professor at several universities with a doctorate in rhetoric and composition, gives a great statement about the story as a whole. “Their passion for the dark power of the paw [clouds] their ability to see … In this

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