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“The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs

Notably, the Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs tells the story of the family who receives a monkey’s paw from a friend, fulfilling the owner’s three wishes, which always lead to dire consequences. Through the story, the reader may notice Jacobs wanted to warn readers to be careful with their wishes because you may receive it. The prominent idea is to make readers think carefully about their desires.

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The story starts when Sergeant-Major Morris, who served in India, visited the White family, Mr. White, Mrs. White, and their son Herbert. He shows them the mummified monkey’s paw he brought back from India. Morris says that the paw has magical properties because an old fakir put a spell on it. The magic lies in the fact that a monkey’s paw can make the owner’s three wishes come true. Nevertheless, it always fulfills desires with monstrous consequences as a punishment for interfering with fate.

“He wanted to show that fate ruled people’s lives and that those who tried to change it would be sorry. He put a spell on it so that three different men could each have three wishes from it” (Jacobs & Hoppenstand, 2014, p. 19).

Morris has already experienced the consequences of using this paw; he speaks with sadness that it is impossible to interfere with fate. Talking about the old and wise fakir, who had put a spell on the paw, he emphasizes fakir’s desire to teach people a lesson, namely to show them that destiny should never be changed.

Moreover, Morris also reveals that he does not know what the first two wishes of the previous owner of the paw were, “but the third was for death” (Jacobs & Hoppenstand, 2014, p. 20). That’s how he got this magical and scary thing for himself. This warning should have scared the family, but, unfortunately, their curiosity and desire to touch magic turned out to be too great.

“Better let it burn,” said the soldier sadly, but in a way that let them know he believed it to be true. Morris, who has experienced the effects of the paw, throws it into the fire, but Mr. White manages to pick it up. Before leaving, Morris warns Mr. White that the consequences will be on his conscience if he uses the magic paw. Despite Morris’s objections and warnings, Mr. White is determined to change something in life rather than be satisfied with everything he already has. Hence, to satisfy his curiosity and at his son’s suggestion, Herbert, Mr. White makes his first wish – to receive 200 pounds sterling. This amount of money will help make the final mortgage payment on his house even though he sincerely believes that he already has everything he wants.

The next day, Herbert leaves for work at a local factory. On the same day, the sad news arrives at the Whites’ house that Herbert died in a terrible accident at the factory, where their son was caught in the machinery. Although the employer denies responsibility for the incident, the firm decides to voluntarily pay the family of the deceased £ 200, which is precisely the amount Mr. White wished for.

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Mrs. and Mr. White are distraught with grief; they cannot believe what a terrible consequence their curiosity has brought them. Ten days after their son’s funeral and terrible mental suffering, Mrs. White recalls that there are two wishes left. Mr. White decided to use the second wish, even though he was scared, sweating, and shaking, “he found himself in the small passage with the evil thing in his hand” (Jacobs & Hoppenstand, 2014, p. 28). This quote is another omen that they should never use the paw in any way, and Mr. White is aware of this.

Despite his fear, he makes a wish for their son to return home. Thus, after an hour or so, Mr. and Mrs. White hear a knock on the door. While Mrs. White desperately tries to open the door and search for the keyhole, Mr. White, terrified of what might await them outside the door, pulls out his paw and makes his third wish. After that, the knocking stops abruptly, and Mrs. White discovers no one outside the door. She cries with grief and disappointment, realizing that her son is no longer in this world and he will never return. Finally, Mr. White made a last wish, as he understood that their son would never return the same. The magic monkey’s paw brought them irreparable consequences that they could not change.

It is essential to add that a cold and piercing wind accompanies the whole story. In addition, the wind is an omen of bad luck and warns about the unfortunate consequences of interfering with fate. To summarize, numerous hints in the story suggest things may not turn out well if the family uses a monkey’s paw. As a result, the main characters’ actions showed that human curiosity could destroy happiness and destiny.


Jacobs, W. W., and Hoppenstand, G. (2014). The monkey’s paw and other tales. Chicago Review Press.

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