‘The Monkey's Paw’ Essay on Foreshadowing

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In the classic short story "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs, the element of foreshadowing plays a crucial role in building suspense and foretelling the tragic events that unfold. Through carefully crafted hints and subtle clues, the author masterfully guides the readers' expectations and sets the stage for the haunting consequences of the fateful monkey's paw. This essay will explore the various instances of foreshadowing in the story and analyze their significance in creating an atmosphere of impending doom.

The Introduction of the Monkey's Paw

Right from the beginning, the introduction of the monkey's paw foreshadows the forthcoming troubles. Sergeant-Major Morris, who possesses the paw, warns the Whites about its potential dangers and urges them to throw it away. His tales of wishes gone wrong and his reluctance to speak of his own experiences serve as ominous omens, foreshadowing the misfortune that awaits the Whites when they decide to disregard his advice and keep the paw.

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The First Wish

When Mr. White makes his first wish, asking for £200, the author uses foreshadowing to create a sense of unease. The paw's peculiar movement in Mr. White's hand, as if it had a life of its own, hints at the supernatural powers at play and the potential dire consequences of tampering with fate. This foreshadowing raises questions in the readers' minds, intensifying their anticipation of what lies ahead.

The Appearance of Herbert's Mangled Corpse

After the tragic accident that claims their son Herbert's life, Mrs. White's reaction and her insistence on seeing their son's body foreshadow the dreadful outcome that awaits them. As Mr. White hesitates to unlock the door, his wife's determination to see Herbert reveals her deep-seated belief that the monkey's paw has the power to bring him back to life. This foreshadowing signals the growing desperation and delusion that will drive the Whites to make their final wish.

The Mysterious Knock

As the Whites sit in anguish, contemplating their final wish, they hear a series of ominous knocks at the door. This recurring motif of knocking serves as a powerful foreshadowing device, building tension and anticipation. The knock on the door, associated with supernatural occurrences and impending doom, hints at the terrible fate awaiting the Whites when they use their final wish to bring back their deceased son.

The Final Wish

When Mr. White makes the final wish, asking for Herbert to come back, the author employs foreshadowing to convey the dreadful twist in the story. Just as Mr. White's wish is granted, the knocking abruptly stops, leaving an eerie silence in its wake. This cessation of the knocking foreshadows the chilling revelation that the resurrected Herbert might not return as they expected. The absence of sound symbolizes the abrupt end to the Whites' hope and the arrival of a horrifying consequence.


In "The Monkey's Paw," W.W. Jacobs skillfully employs foreshadowing to create suspense and heighten the sense of impending tragedy. From the introduction of the monkey's paw to the haunting knocks at the door, each instance of foreshadowing serves to prepare the readers for the disastrous consequences of the characters' actions. By utilizing these literary techniques, the author effectively builds anticipation and engages the readers' emotions, leaving a lasting impact on their understanding of the story's themes of fate, greed, and the consequences of tampering with supernatural forces.

"The Monkey's Paw" stands as a timeless example of how foreshadowing can enhance the reader's experience and create a sense of impending doom. Through the carefully woven web of hints and clues, Jacobs effectively guides the readers toward the tragic outcome that awaits the Whites. This literary device not only adds depth and complexity to the narrative but also serves as a reminder of the inherent dangers of tempting fate and the irreversible consequences that can follow.

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