Literary Devices in The Monkey's Paw
In addition to the items below, you can find more information about foreshadowing, symbols, and tone for "The Monkey's Paw" on their separate analysis pages.
Black Humor: Since W. W. Jacobs more often wrote humor rather than horror, “The Monkey’s Paw” contains some dark humor, making light of subject matter that is morbid or serious. The two most prominent examples occur in relation to the discussion of the power of the monkey’s paw. When Mrs. White jokingly suggests wishing for four pairs of hands for herself, Morris is alarmed, as he knows that she might literally sprout extra hands—a grotesque yet humorous image. Furthermore, some lines of character dialogue are ironically funny or foreboding in light of the story’s conclusion.
Omniscient Narrator: The narrative style of this story is more “fly on the wall”; that is, an all-knowing narrator simply reports action from afar. The narrator sticks mostly with Mr. White but occasionally jumps into other characters’ heads. Notably, readers never get an inside look into Morris to see if he’s telling the truth about the paw’s power, which helps preserve suspense and keeps the tale’s ending ambiguous and open to interpretation.
Literary Devices Examples in The Monkey's Paw:
"The last face was so horrible and so simian that he gazed at it in amazement...." See in text (I.)
""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."..." See in text (I.)
"A fine crash from the piano greeted the words, interrupted by a shuddering cry from the old man. His wife and son ran toward him...." See in text (I.)
""Well, it's just a bit of what you might call magic, perhaps," said the sergeant-major, offhandedly...." See in text (I.)
"of all the beastly, slushy, out-of-the-way places to live in..." See in text (I.)
"Without, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Laburnam Villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly. ..." See in text (I.)
"Even his wife's face seemed changed as he entered the room...." See in text (III.)
"a house steeped in shadow and silence...." See in text (III.)
""For God's sake don't let it in," cried the old man, trembling..." See in text (III.)