The Monkey's Paw Analysis

Topics: Gothic Fiction

This sample essay on The Monkey’s Paw Analysis offers an extensive list of facts and arguments related to it. The essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and the conclusion are provided below.

Both ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ and ‘The Red Room’ were written around the turn of the century, ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ being written in 1902 and ‘The Red Room’ being written in 1894. The genre was first introduced by Horace Walpole and his gothic novel ‘The Castle of Otranto’. The gothic genre blended two already well established genres, horror and romance, because of this it soon became very popular amongst other writers and issued an almost cult-like following.

Many writers began to emulate the genre in their own writing, for instance Mary Shelley wrote ‘Frankenstein’, which in many ways popularised the genre.

It was at its peak in the times coming up to the turn of the century, with the likes of Bram Stoker writing ‘Dracula’, Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ and the two short stories in question.

The defining feature of the gothic genre is the necessity of tension. The creation of tension is achieved with the use of typical features, for instance setting or use of characters. When using the setting to create tension writers often set the main location in an isolated area.

This is apparent in both stories ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ is set in a cut off house during a storm and ‘The Red Room’ is set in a remote castle.

Get quality help now

Proficient in: Gothic Fiction

4.7 (657)

“ Really polite, and a great writer! Task done as described and better, responded to all my questions promptly too! ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

The setting is established straight away in ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ for instance; “without the night was cold and wet”, Jacobs uses pathetic fallacy to relay illustrate to the reader what the story will be like and already creates tension. The oppressive language used creates a portent of doom because it is set in the night during a storm when it is dark and your senses would be overrun by the storm, making the characters and the reader alike more apprehensive.

Ww Jacobs Short Stories

Jacobs then writes “Of all the beastly, slushy, out-of-the-way places to live in” this quote uses the typical feature of the weather. The author uses a three part list to emphasise the bad weather, bad weather brings bad tidings, and because the White family are out of the way, remembering in those times communication was poor, if something were to happen it would be unlikely they could be helped. Also the three part list emphasises the isolation and in that weather it would be near impossible to communicate with people outside your own home.

The house itself is shown as a safe place. The main reason for this is the use of another typical feature, the fire, because the White family are all happy and surrounding the fire it creates a contrast with the weather outside and makes the house seem secure and sheltered to the reader. It is very common for a gothic story to be set in a secluded castle like in ‘The Red Room’. This is because in a castle there are often many empty rooms that the custodian rarely goes in, anything could happen in that room.

Also castles are often depicted as very cold and dark because they were lived in mainly in times where there was no central heating or electricity. ‘The Red Room’ also uses a fire as a main setting with all the characters congregated around it for warmth and protection. Along with setting the other main feature in the gothic genre is that of the characters which often are disfigured, for instance in ‘The Red Room’ H. G. Wells repeatedly refers to one character as “the man with the withered arm”.

People used to think that people with disabilities had been touched by the devil and by using this it automatically makes the reader think of evil. Another of the old custodians is described to wear a shade. Again this a reference to the devil, people used to think that if you were blind then it was because you had witnessed the devil. H. G. Wells also describes the same character to have “decaying yellow teeth” Wells uses these negative adjectives to portray him as a sinister character.

This is a direct comparison to the monkey’s paw in which the old people are deemed to be nice for example Mr White lets his son win at a game of chess. Also the name “White” is significant because white often signifies purity and goodness and Mr white is not portrayed in the same way that old people usually are in gothic novels because neither he nor his wife are disfigured or evil in any way. Depicting the White family in this way conveys a portent of doom to the reader because they are old and frail and more susceptible to attack.

Other than Sgt Major Morris who brings with his entrance a portent of doom, no characters in the monkey’s paw are menacing. The writer uses pathetic fallacy with the arrival of Sgt major Morris because the bad weather is justified when he enters the house from the intimidation and menace he brings. The menace comes from the talisman, the monkey’s paw, another typical feature. To conclude, in many ways both stories are similar for instance both include an isolated building as there setting and both focus on the fire and light being the main protection.

However they do differ; in ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ Jacobs uses the talisman and that of the unknown mysterious magic put on it, for instance “It had a spell put on it by an old Fakir. ” Shows that the monkeys paw had mystical, unknown magic put on it. Fakirs are often depicted to be associated with black magic so the reader already knows that if the magic worked it would not be good. The focus of ‘The Red Room’ is that the main character is afraid of fear itself “The worst of all the things that haunt poor mortal man” “in all its nakedness- Fear! “

Cite this page

The Monkey's Paw Analysis. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

The Monkey's Paw Analysis
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7