The Monkey's Paw

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The Monkey’s Paw
Foreshadowing, a literacy devise commonly used to help a reader predict a story’s outcome, is greatly used in the short story “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs. In the story a family, the Whites, are given a monkey’s paw in which they are told can grant three wishes. They begin by wishing for two hundred pounds, but it is not long before their wish affects and changes their lives forever. Jacobs foreshadows “The Monkey’s Paw” through his use of symbolism.

One of the main ways Jacobs uses symbolism is through a chess game played between Mr. White and his son Herbert. Both men were at chess, Mr. White “putting his king into such sharp and unnecessary perils... [and] having seen a fatal mistake after it was too late, was amiably desirous of preventing his son from seeing it” (219). In this short story, the chess game represents life. Both are laid out like a game board; the pieces are such that they represent an individual. In chess, each piece can move in certain ways, but as soon as a piece makes a wrong move, the situation must be fixed or consequences will most likely emerge. And, just as checkmate represents the end of the game, in life it represents death.

Jacobs uses the symbols of light versus dark to foreshadow the story’s ending. Light represents happiness, life and even future. Through three instances in the book, Jacobs is able to perceive how the story turns from light to dark. Before the wish was made, all is well in the White family. Herbert sat “In the brightness of the wintry sun... as it streamed over the breakfast table” (221). The description in this quote generally shows a sense of joyfulness, and the sun acts as a form of light symbolizing life and happiness. However, after Mr. White makes the wish on the monkey’s paw, the Whites are struck with unbearable consequences. In hope of undoing the effects of his first wish, Mr. White wishes his son back to life. The talisman then falls from Mr. Whites hand as he sits down,...
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