Literary Analysis of The Monkey`s Paw

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LiteraryAnalysis of The Monkey’s Paw

LiteraryAnalysis of The Monkey’s Paw

Jacobs’Monkey’sPawis set in three places with the central idea revolving around thepaw. The first scene takes place during a rainstorm in the evening,the location of the second section is a bright winter morning, andthe last part is on a chilly, windy night (Jacobs,2011). The author uses indirect descriptions to show the character’straits. For example, the author does not explicitly say that Mr.White is satisfied with his life. Instead, he indicates that Mr.White cannot find anything to wish for, which shows that he haseverything he needs. On the other hand, Jacobs indirectly usesHerbert’s behavior and dialogue to present him as a friendlyindividual who is always joking and high-spirited (Jacobs,2011). The Monkey’sPawdemonstrates the author’s diverse use of literary devices such asirony, foreshadowing, and symbolism to illustrate the themes ofwishing and greed.

Jacobssteadily builds up tension and suspense in the story through imageryand foreshadowing. The author uses the paw to show that desire ispart of human nature. For example, Jacobs portrays Mr. White as acharacter who has a good home and a happy family. However, greedforces Mr. White to wish for more money that he probably would notuse (Jacobs,2011).The story also depicts the paw as an image of nervousness over itemsthat come from foreign countries. For example, the Indian paw isblamed for the circumstances that have caused grief and endangeredthe wellbeing of the Whites family (Jacobs,2011).Additionally, Jacobs uses chess to symbolize life. Mr. White and hisson like playing chess, but certain changes have to take place whenplaying the game just like in life where a person has to undergoradical changes. The story shows how caution and risk dictate theoutcome of essential changes in one’s life. For example, Herbert iscautious about making any requests while Mr. White recklessly wishesfor money (Jacobs,2011).

Moreover,the author uses foreshadowing by giving the reader several hints,which signify that something sinister will happen. Thus, Jacobsslowly builds an atmosphere of fear from the beginning of the story.For example, when playing chess, Mr. White’s techniques portray himas a careless risk taker. Hence, the reader expects him to make suchimprudent decisions later in the narrative. Dramatic irony is alsoused severally to illustrate the major themes. For example, Herbertsays that he does not see the money, and he doubts he will ever seeit (Jacobs,2011).The statement is ironical since Herbert never gets the money becausehe dies the following day. Besides, the sum of money Mr. Whitewished for is the same amount that Herbert’s employers paid incompensation for his death (Jacobs,2011).

Lastly,Jacob leaves the readers in suspense wondering if the paw had anyreal powers or if Herbert’s death was just a coincidence. Furthermore, Mr. and Mrs. White do not see the corpse thus, it ispossible that another person was knocking, and he or she left at thesame time when Mr. White made his final wish.


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Jacobs,W. W. (2011). Themonkey`s paw.Auckland:Floating Press.

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