The Monkey's Paw Background

The Monkey's Paw Background

"The Monkey's Paw" is a chilling story of supernatural suspense by W.W Jacobs, first published in England in 1902 in Jacob's short story collection "The Lady of the Barge". The story has been included in dozens of collections, from horror and gothic anthologies to the New York Review of Books’ collection of classic fiction.

There have been several different media adaptations of it, including plays, eight separate films and most popularly an episode of "The Simpsons". Stephen King even based his novel "Pet Sematary" (1983) on the themes of this story.

W.W.Jacobs does a creepy spin on the classic three wishes folk tale of "Arabian Nights" The story revolves around a couple, Mr. and Mrs.White and their son, Herbert. Upon a visit from an old friend, they acquire a magical artifact – a monkey’s paw. Anyone who owns it gets three wishes granted. They come true, but with a catch. There is a great cost that is paid on behalf whoever makes the wish. When Whites wish for money, they end up receiving it as compensation for their son’s death from the company where he had worked. After a grieving, desperate Mrs.White wishes her son back to life, he returns to them from the dead, not the same man he had been during his life, but a zombie like creature from the grave. The third wish sends him back to the peace of the grave.

The author uses foreshadowing to increase suspense in this story, along with setting and imagery to add to the eeriness. A combination of horror and humor have made "The Monkey's Paw" popular with generations of readers.

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