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Profesorado para el Tercer Ciclo de la EGB y para la Educacin Polimodal en

The Monkeys Paw William Wymark Jacobs

Taking into account the analysis of the short story, the following lines portraits
the most relevant information about the writer.
William Wymark Jacobs (1863-1943) was born in London, England. Although he
came from a poor family, he attended to a private school in London. In the
early 1890s Jacobs had some of his stories published in illustrated satirical
magazines. It was in 1896 when the author published his first collection of
short stories titled Many Cargoes, it was followed by The Skippers wooing
(1897) and another collection of short stories titled Sea Urchins (1898).
In 1900 he married Agnes Eleanor with whom he would have two sons and
three daughters. In 1902 he published The Lady of the Barge (1902)
containing among other horror stories The Monkeys Paw (1914). William
Wymark Jacobs died at Hornsey Lane, London in September 1943.
Jacobs had a long and successful career, prolifically producing satirical and
macabre short stories. He displayed his exceptional talent to ingeniously device
characters and funny situations; generally, about the British underclass. This
author belongs to the fantasy movement; The Monkeys Paw is a clear
exponent of it owing to its mixture of imaginary and real events.
Considering the analysis, the Title has a strong relation with the story, due to
the relevance of the talisman and how the characters are involved with
supernatural events.
As regards the Theme, it points out the difficult, almost impossible task of
achieving resignation. It is expressed in: we had the first wish granted, said
the old woman, feverishly, why not the second. (Chapter III); Its my boy, its
Herbert! she cried, struggling mechanically. I forgot he was two miles away.
What are you holding me for? Lets go. I must open the door. (Chapter III).
With reference to the setting, this story occurs at a psychological time due to
the fact that the author does not mention any chronological event which would
permit us locate the narration in a specific time. The story takes place at Mr.
Whites house mainly, although there are other places mentioned such as the
factory and the cemetery. The place is considered scenic, because there is no
deep description of it and it does not affect the development of the story.
Regarding the characters, Mr. White, a weak personality man, is the main
character owing to the fact he is the responsible for asking wishes. The other

characters are so relevant, such as Sergeant- Major Morris the man who gave
Mr. White the talisman. Mr. Whites son Herbert, a sarcastic boy, who died in an
accident. Mrs. White, a dominant woman who strongly persuades her husband
to wish for her sons life. And finally, the man sent for the company to
announce the bad news about Herberts death to Mr. and Mrs. White.
Taking into consideration the language, it consists of colloquial vocabulary in
most of characters conversations, as the expression: Hark at the wind
(Chapter I). However, it presents formal style used not only by the narrator
when describing a situation, for instance She broke of suddenly as the sinister
meaning assurance dawned upon her and she saw the awful confirmation of
her fears in others averted face (Chapter II) but also for certain characters,
such as the man sent from Maw and Maggins: They admit no liability at all,
but in consideration of your sons services the wish to present you with a
certain sum as compensation (Chapter II).
The events are narrated in third person, mainly in a dialogical style, using past
tenses, active voice and reported speech. It is present in the following:
Morris said the things happened so naturally said his father (Chapter II) and
He took the paw dangling it between his front finger and thumb, suddenly
threw it upon the fire (Chapter I)
The author uses an ironic tone reflected along the story, due to the use of
several figures of speech, such as: images of hearing, sight and touch,
repetitions, metaphors, onomatopoeia and similes.

Images of hearing are spread along the tale: Neither spoke, but both
lay silently listening to the ticking of the clock. A stair cracked, and a
squeaky mouse scurried noisily through the wall. (Chapter III); a loud
knock resounded through the house (Chapter III) and The sound of her
sobs died away on his ears (Chapter III).
Image of sigh: Mr. White looked up sharply, just in time to intercept a
knowing glance between mother and son (Chapter I); the old
womans face was white, her eyes staring, and her breath inaudible, on
the husbands face was a look such as his friend the sergeant might
have carried into his first action (Chapter III)
Image of touch: and taking his wifes hand between his own,
pressed it as he had been wont to do in their old courting days nearly
forty years before (Chapter II).
Onomatopoeia presents in: tut, tut (Chapter I)
Repetitions are found in the following: Its Herbert! She screamed. Its
Herbert! (Chapter III); WISH! she cried in a strong voice WISH!
repeated his wife. (Chapter III).
Metaphor is expressed in: something else which was to lighten this
load, too heavy for old hearts to bear. (Chapter III).


Profesorado para el Tercer Ciclo de la EGB y para la Educacin Polimodal en

Simile: Sounds like the Arabian Nights (Chapter I); As I wish it

twisted in my hand like a snake (Chapter I).
Irony: well, dont break into the monkey before I come back, said
Herbert, as he rose from the table. Im afraid itll turn you into a mean,
avaricious man, and we shall to disown you (Chapter II), meaning his
father would not receive the money.

Focusing on the plot of the narration, The Monkeys Paw is a short story which
portrays a common family, consisting of a couple Mr. and Mrs. With and its only
son, Herbert. They receive from a sergeant- major monkeys paw with
supernatural powers. The whole story turns around three wishes the monkeys
paw granted to its owner. The members of the family show a big eagerness
about that. At the end the three wishes are made. They ask for money and they
receive it because of their sons death. Anxiously, the woman obliges her
husband to wish for her son back to life; her husband does it but terrified with
that idea he uses last wish to avoid the second one.
The story depicts a variety of emotions but the most vivid ones are desperation
and sorrow for the loss of a loved person. This situation changes their minds,
being possible to predict that the void left by their sons death will never exist.
On the whole, The Monkeys paw is a short story that depicts the difficulty for
human beings to accept painful situations.
The tragic and unpredictable events like the loss of a loved person make us
forget our rational perspective of life. Mrs. White shows how hard it is to admit
the facts and to be aware of our impossibility to change things. It also proves
our innate predisposition to find hope in the most terrible situations.
Resignation is the best alternative but at the same time, I claim that we need
hope to go on living.