Short Fiction

The Monkey's Paw

Although English author W. W. Jacobs was better known in his lifetime as a humorist, his eerie 1902 short story “The Monkey’s Paw” is what he’s most remembered for today. The scene is set for something ghastly: it’s dark and stormy outside, but a family enjoys warmth and companionship within their home. The arrival of an old military compatriot—who brings from faraway lands the titular monkey’s paw—signals impending upheaval for the family, as the vices inherent in each come to a head. Essentially a folk tale, and inspired accordingly by a similar story from One Thousand and One Nights, “The Monkey’s Paw” cautions against the dangers of our own desires and perfectly embodies the mantra “Be careful what you wish for.”

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