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‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by W. W. Jacobs: Analytical Essay on Author's Style

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In ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ the author W.W.Jacobs begins the story by setting the scene and the atmosphere by describing the area in which the White’s live. Jacobs describes the night as cold and wet, while inside the house the blinds are drawn and the fire is burning brightly. This is a good contrast, as the house seems to have a warm and safe atmosphere inside, even though the cottage is situated in a remote area of the country, with extremely unpleasant and harsh weather. Before the Sergeant-Major arrives, the atmosphere of the house seems quite tense and dull. Jacobs shows how tense Mr. White is when he writes “Bawled Mr. White, with sudden and unlooked-for violence”. You can easily see that Mr. White doesn’t seem to be concentrating on his game of chess. As ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ was written over a century ago, Jacobs doesn’t use explicit gory details to create horror like modern scary films and books. Instead, he uses subtle hints in most aspects of the story to build up an element of terror and one of these aspects is the way that Jacobs uses setting. The setting of part I begins with a cliché common to most gothic horror stories. “The night was cold and wet but in the small parlour of a Laburnum villa…” The wet and cold atmosphere has an unpleasant affect on the reader as it makes them immediately feel uneasy about the situation. Cold and wet as a combination are both largely used clichés to set the scene of a story, similar to ‘To Build a Fire’, by Jack London, which did however have a more intense description of the setting which was successfully suspenseful and eerie. Pathetic fallacy at the very beginning conveys the idea that the story will contain dark or evil connotations. The use of the word, ‘but’ has been purposely selected to show there is more to the situation, implying that it is liable to a twist. The first paragraph has a great ambience of normality across it; this had been done to allow the reader to empathise the characters, as it has been set in a fairly common area. However, by setting it in a common place, such as a home – Jacobs is defying the orthodox Gothic Horror genre setting. Most stories or novels which follow the rules of this genre are set in deserted places or a more enchanted/fictional region.

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In addition, the transition between each part of the story shows large changes in mood. After Herbert retires for the night, the second part begins, which has a very customary, “prosaic” mood to it. The contrast of mood between the start of part II and the end of part I is very large and keeps the reader alert. The huge amount of tension built when Herbert gazes into the fire is dropped instantaneously, keeping the interest of the reader. The following day, the mood is very calm and relaxed, the reader may feel as if the mood were too normal, and become suspicious, waiting for some action to occur. Following the Gothic Horror genre, there is a cliché that sunlight has a large impact on the mood of a story, as everything seems more controlled and calm during the day.

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‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by W. W. Jacobs: Analytical Essay on Author’s Style. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 5, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-monkeys-paw-by-w-w-jacobs-analytical-essay-on-authors-style/
“‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by W. W. Jacobs: Analytical Essay on Author’s Style.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-monkeys-paw-by-w-w-jacobs-analytical-essay-on-authors-style/
‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by W. W. Jacobs: Analytical Essay on Author’s Style. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-monkeys-paw-by-w-w-jacobs-analytical-essay-on-authors-style/> [Accessed 5 Feb. 2023].
‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by W. W. Jacobs: Analytical Essay on Author’s Style [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Feb 5]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-monkeys-paw-by-w-w-jacobs-analytical-essay-on-authors-style/
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