W.W Jacobs uses many different techniques in The Monkey's Paw to build up an atmosphere of suspense and uneasiness. One way this is done is by Jacob's description of the White family's location, a bleak, desolate and isolated place. The fact that it is so far away from any built up area indicates to the reader that if something were to happen to them, then they would be very vulnerable,
"of all the beastly, slushy, out-of-the-way places to live in, this is the worst".
The words Mr White uses to describe the area creates an element of mystery. Jacobs builds up suspense even further by describing the wintry weather. Typical of many stories in the horror genre, "the night was cold and wet", and at night in the middle of nowhere, the slightest sounds or movements seems a lot scarier. Jacobs creates a conventional horror story setting where the reader expects something to go awry.
However the mood and setting of the outside is a sharp contrast to the warm, inviting interior of the Laburnum Villa. Here Jacobs creates a friendly family scene where the "fire burned brightly" and the father and son play a game of chess. Here the warmth and safety of the inside juxtaposes the cold and danger of the outside. The reader begins to wonder for how much longer this perfect balance can be maintained in the story, building up an element of fear and suspense.
The reader's question is soon answered when the Sergeant along with the monkey's paw arrives disturbing the equilibrium. When the Sergeant first introduces the monkey's paw, the family seem quite curious about it, asking a string of questions. However the Sergeant only answers with tantalizingly short answers such as "I have" and "I did". The Sergeant also tells them of the wishes the past owners have made "The first man had his three wishes . . . I don't know what the first two were, but the third was for death". This makes the Whites (as well as the reader) wonder whether the paw really does bring bad luck. This secrecy drives their curiosity even further to the point they buy the paw. Once they are in possession of it, they begin to wonder whether it will actually work, but they simply dismiss is it as a superstition. Their attitudes are shown when Mr White wishes for two hundred pounds and Herbert jokes "I expect you'll find the cash tied up in a big bag in the middle of your bed", this sarcastic remark that Herbert makes, demonstrates to the reader their laid back attitudes towards it. However there are differences of opinion within the family. While Herbert laughs at the monkey's paw, Mr White is quite afraid of it. This is shown when he is holding the monkey's paw and "with a little shiver he wiped his hand on his coat", because he shivered we know that he feels uneasy being around it and that he is disgusted by it. Due to the mixture of attitudes, the reader isn't sure what to believe, creating an air of mystery and tension.
Jacobs not only uses the characters' attitudes to create suspense but also their dialogue, which brings a sense of immediacy and authenticity to the story. For example, Mrs White suddenly shouts out wildly "The paw! . . The monkey's paw!". This immediately accelerates the pace of the story and builds up suspense as the reader doesn't know what has caused Mrs White's uproar. Later on, the suspense is augmented by the couples short and sharp sentences and questions such as "Think of what?" and "We've only had one"....