Analysis Of Themes And Archetypes Presented In The Novel The Monkey’s Paw” By W.w. Jacobs

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

Themes are demonstrated in all literature, especially in “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs. In this short story, the themes ‘be careful of what you wish for’ and ‘don’t interfere with fate’ are shown as well as literary devices such as irony and.

First of all, the theme of ‘be careful of what you wish for’ is shown by Jacobs when he talks about how the paw has granted the wishes, but at a severe cost. This is shown in the story when the Sergeant Major Morris says “‘The first man had his three wishes, yes’ was the reply. ‘I don’t know what the first two were, but the third was for death. That’s how I got the paw.’” (Jacobs 3). The Sergeant Major explains that

’Well, I don’t see the money,’ said his son as he picked it up and placed it on the table, ‘and I bet I never shall.’’ (Jacobs 4. Herbert’s comment proves to be ironic because of the fact that he believes the money will never come, his words have an alternate meaning, which is that he will physically not be able to have any of the money for himself when it arrives. This serves as an example of Jacobs’s ironic humor and foreshadowing of Herbert’s death earlier on in the story. Overall, when greed wants to switch the fate of someone, there will be severe consequences which are shown in “The Monkey’s Paw”.

“The Monkey’s Paw” has many examples of different archetypes, including ‘Innate Wisdom vs. Educated Stupidity’ and ‘The Innocent One’. These patterns create meaning in the story by showing how you have to be careful of what you wish for, and how people can be persuaded easily by things that are too good to be true. Firstly, the archetype ‘Innate Wisdom vs. Educated Stupidity’ is used in the story to show the personality of the Sergeant Major and how he is trying to protect Mr. White from what can happen if he uses the paw. This is shown when the Sergeant Major says “If you keep it, don’t blame me for what happens. Pitch it on the fire again, like a sensible man.” (Jacobs 3). This sentence is significant because it shows how the Sergeant Major knows that the monkey’s paw will harm the family in one way or another, so he opposes them having it, making him the innate wisdom.

On the other hand, Mr. White shows the educated stupidity because he knows that his family is well off already but he wants to take the paw for himself to make the family’s financial position stronger, even though it does not need to be and other people, who he is better off than, could use the wishes for themselves to help them live comfortably. Furthermore, Mr. White should know that the paw is too good to be true because the Sergeant Major is not very enthusiastic about the paw’s abilities. If the paw lacked consequences, the Sergeant Major would give it away or sell it quickly. However, to stop the curse, he tried to burn it before Mr. White retrieved it from the fire and used it even after many warnings.

Another archetype shown in the story is ‘The Innocent One’ shown by Mrs. White. Throughout the story, she would doubt the paw’s abilities, and believe that Mr. White was imagining the movement of the paw until after Herbert is dead and the compensation is the same two hundred pounds that they requested from the paw. This is shown when Mrs. White says “You’re afraid of your own son … Let me go. I’m coming, Herbert; I’m coming.” (Jacobs 9). Mrs. White, excited to see her son forgets that he will still be deformed from being caught in the machinery. She finally understands that the paw’s wishes are truthful and that Herbert will return to her even though she previously disregarded the idea of wishes coming true. This relates to the theme ‘be careful of what you wish for’ because even though Herbert is going to return, he will not be the same and there might be even worse consequences that are connected to the wish.

Finally, the deeper meanings that are represented in “The Monkey’s Paw”, ‘too good to be true’ and ‘be careful of what you wish for’ are proven by the archetypes, ‘innate wisdom vs. educated stupidity’ and ‘the innocent one’ in “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs.


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