The success of any short story depends upon the skill with which the plot moves. The writer doesnt have the time to develop ideas that he has in a novel, but at the same time all those elements must be present.
The unusual element in the Monkeys Paw is how much the plot depends upon coincidence and irony. The successful uses of these binds the story together and contributes to the tension.
Examples of this are: The coincidence of the monkeys paw actually being in the possession Sergeant Morris. Mrs White brings up the conversation about the story of the Monkeys Paw, once told by the Sergeant himself, and he just happens to have the paw in his possession. The fact that the paw is given movement and a sort of life as wishes are made suggests possible disaster. For instance the piano crashes, the man cries out and the paw moves when the wish is made.
The paw is clearly an omen, a bad omen. For instance, the wish of the original owner was for death. This clearly points out that the other two wishes may have caused unhappiness. Also Sergeant Morris says; I warn you of the consequences. Clearly here, however innocent the wish, Morris knows that it will end badly. Dont blame me for what happens.
The major coincidence centres around the two hundred pounds. How could 200 hurt you? says Mrs White ironically, she will find out! There are two real climaxes in the story one is how they get the two hundred pounds (and the fact that Herberts death is a shocking mutilated death) and the second climax is the tension associated with the knocking on the door.
Herbert the son is himself the focus in what he says and in what happens to him of some tragic irony. (a) He refers to the mummy and uses the words: Before I come back. He never does come back. (b) His mother says of her son: When he comes home. Again he never does, and (c) Herbert himself says prophetically I dont see the money, and I bet I never shall. And in the end does he?
Here are some quotes of major irony: he wanted to show people that fate ruled peoples lives, and those that messed with it did so at there own risk. It suggests that when you start to mess with the paw it results in death. Seems to me that Ive got all I could want. And: Dont break into the money before I get back. These two quotes show how Herbert is seriously tempting fate.
In the Monkeys Paw there are two main reasons for the importance of coincidence: 1. Coincidence is central to the climax and horror of the story. 2. Coincidence is used in small ways to build up the tension of the plot. There is also a major role irony, which is used in the same way and creates the same affect as coincidence. (Irony is where events have a particular significance because of what later happens. It is something that gains retrospect.) With these two factors taken into account, I think this is how the writer builds up the tension of the in the Monkeys Paw.