The Monkey's Paw

“The Monkey’s Paw”
by W.W. Jacobs
Author and Context Notes
Author Notes
W. W. Jacobs, the
author of “The
Monkey’s Paw”
was born in
London, England
in 1863. He died
in 1943 at the
age of 80.
Author Notes
When he was young, he listened to tales
told by sailors he met at his dockside
house where he lived with his father.
 These were stories about everyday life
disrupted by strange and fantastic events.
Author Notes
“The Monkey’s Paw is his most famous
tale of suspense and the supernatural.
 It was first published in 1902 and made
into a one-act play a year later.
Culture / Context
One of the major motifs in the story is
that of FATE – a force that determines the
outcome of events before they occur.
Culture / Context
Ancient Greeks and
Romans worshiped
fate in the form of the
3 Fates who wove
human destiny
– Clotho: Spins the
thread of life
– Lachesis: measures
the thread of life
– Atropos: cuts the
thread of life
Culture / Context
The theme of wishing found in “The
Monkey’s Paw” is very common in the
folklore of different cultures.
Culture / Context
In a Jewish folk tale from Eastern Europe,
a man is helped by a magical wishing ring,
but nearly dies when he reveals this to
Culture / Context
An Ancient Chinese
tale tells of the
Mother Heaven who
tries to grant
everyone’s wish, but
who only causes
Culture / Context
In Middle Eastern cultures, Djinn (commonly
called Genies) assist or cause mischief through
the granting of wishes. A famous example of
this is the tale of Aladdin, from The Thousand
and One Arabian Nights.
Literary Focus: Foreshadowing
In foreshadowing, writers give clues to the
outcomes of the stories they write before
the events play out later in the plot.
Literary Focus: Foreshadowing
Practice your foreshadowing detective
skills by paying close attention to the story
told by the Sergeant Major at the outset of
the story. Important clues are given well
before the conclusion of the story.