How “The Monkey’s Paw” Uses Genre Elements to Scare and Warn Its Readers

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From building suspense to having supernatural events, there are many elements in the horror genre. Some help bring more depth to the story while others just make it scary. In William Wymark jacobs’ “The Monkey’s Paw”, its Plot, Supernatural events, and theme make it feel like a real horror.

One of the main elements of “The Monkey Paw is its plot. In part 1, Mr. White and his son, Herbert, are playing chess. Mr. White moves one of his pieces into the wrong spot and he gets put in a checkmate. This foreshadows Mr. White making an irreversible and bad decision. After they finish their game, they get a visit from Sergeant-Major Morris, a family friend, and he introduces the monkey’s paw. Major Morris tries to burn it after seeing the effects of his first wish but reluctantly gives it to Mr. White with him saying “if you don’t want it, Morris, give it to me” in paragraph 41. He warns the family to wish for something wisely, and then hastily leaves.

At first, they didn’t know what to wish for so Herbert tells them to wish for 200 pounds because it wasn’t too extreme or a waste. In part 2 the Whites start joking about the ways the monkey’s paw would grant their wish, but it ends up being grim because Herbert dies, mangled by machinery at work, and they get a 200-pound compensation. In part 3, Mrs. White forces her husband to bring back their late dead son with the monkey’s paw. He tries to stop his wife from seeing “Herbert” knocking on the door because when he died he was unrecognizable and it would destroy him and his wife to see the results of the accident. Though the story does explicitly say it, you can assume that Mr. White uses the 3rd wish to, unfortunately, make his son dead again before his wife can open the door. The plot was just one of the many elements in horror, let’s analyze the more unordinary parts a little closer.

The second element of horror that can be found in this story are supernatural events. The main out-of-the-ordinary phenomenon you see is the Monkey’s paw being able to grant wishes. Paragraph 26 says “It had a spell put on it by an old fakir,” It seems like it would be something amazing, right? That couldn’t be further from the truth, behind the superficial good facade, the item was cursed to always make the wish come with an even greater negative impact than positive. The wishes it granted didn’t come out of thin air, the Whites getting the 200 pounds they asked for in exchange for their son’s life is evidence. Having supernatural things happen in a horror is nice, but this story wouldn’t have been the same if it didn’t have some sort of lesson within it.

The third element of horror that can be found in “The Monkey’s Paw” is its theme. “The Monkey’s Paw” has a handful of lessons to learn in it. One being Be careful of what you wish for but there’s another that may have been shadowed by the ladder though it was said in paragraph 26 and that is ‘you shouldn’t try to change fate’. Do you remember that game of chess Mr. White and his son were playing in the beginning? Let’s substitute Herbert for the monkey’s paw and the king Mr. White moved as his first wish.

Mr. White thought he was making a harmless decision by moving that king; making a wish, but the monkey’s paw would punish him severely for making such a mistake. The Whites were not supposed to have that extra 200 pounds so the monkey’s paw gave it to them in the most unfortunate way. Another instance of them messing with fate was there trying to bring their son back from the dead. The monkey’s paw killed their son in the most gruesome way possible so when they tried messing with what had already been done, they would’ve seen something horrific.

William Wymark Jacobs’ “The Monkey’s Paw” is filled with several elements that would classify it as a horror. From its plot to the supernatural events in it and even a theme, it all fits within the genre. Even though this essay is coming to an end, there are still plenty more elements that make this story feel like something you would read to your grandchildren on a spooky night.

Cite this paper

How “The Monkey’s Paw” Uses Genre Elements to Scare and Warn Its Readers. (2023, May 19). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/how-the-monkeys-paw-uses-genre-elements-to-scare-and-warn-its-readers/

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