The Monkey’s Paw is a gothic-style short story written by William Wymark Jacobs in 1902. It is probably one of his most well-known stories, especially in the classic horror genre. The story is part of a collection of short stories called The Lady Of The Barge. The Monkey’s Paw is a “three wishes/be careful what you wish for” type story with a horror twist to it. Download our The Monkey’s Paw PDF to explore this cautionary tale about what happens when you tempt fate!
Title: The Monkey’s Paw
Author: William Wymark Jacobs
Format: A4 PDF
Release Date: April 2004
Copyright Status: Public Domain In The USA
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The Monkey’s Paw Summary
The Monkey’s Paw begins in England at the home of Mr. and Mrs. White. Their adult son, Herbert is with them along with Sergeant-Major Morris, a friend of the family who was an officer in the British Army in India. Sergeant-Major Morris tells the family about a mummified monkey’s paw that he got from an old Indian Fakir or priest. The fakir placed an enchantment on the paw which would give the owner three wishes. While telling his story he warns the family that there are always consequences to the wishes made. He tells how he had thought of selling the monkey’s paw but decided against it because “it has caused me enough mischief already”.
While giving the family his warnings about the monkey’s paw, Morris quickly decides to throw it into the fire. Mr. White however quickly stoops down and snatches the paw out. Morris warns him that no good can come from making wishes and meddling with destiny and they must not blame him for the consequences of their actions if they decide to use it.
After some discussion and thought the family decide that to start with, they would wish for their home’s bond to be cleared. While holding the monkey’s paw, Mr. White wishes aloud for two hundred pounds. The words scarcely leave his lips when he suddenly drops the paw onto the floor swearing that it had moved!
The following day, poor Herbert is killed in a terrible accident at work. An employee of the company arrives to tell Mr. and Mrs. White and although the company denies any wrongdoing or responsibility on their part, they make a goodwill payment to the family for two hundred pounds exactly.
Mr. and Mrs. White are horrified and shocked by what happened to their beloved Herbert. A week after Herbert’s funeral Mrs. White is still wracked with grief. Suddenly she comes up with a plan! Use the monkey’s paw to bring Herbert back to life. Mr. White is shocked by his wife’s suggestion and is very reluctant to use their second wish. With Mrs. White insisting over and over again that he make the wish he finally gives in and makes his wish.
After about an hour there is a knock at the door. Mrs. White begins to run frantically to the door to open it but Mr. White stops her knowing the horror that she could face if she opens it. Mrs. White becomes almost hysterical trying to get to the door and she manages to break free from Mr. White’s grip. With Mrs. White struggling to open the door, Mr. White quickly finds the monkey paw and makes his third and final wish. Suddenly the knocking at the door stops and when Mrs. White opens the door there is no one there.
The Monkey’s Paw Movies And Other Adaptations
There are quite a few adaptations of The Monkey’s Paw in film, radio, and theatre including Pet Sematary, Steven King’s novel that is said to have been inspired by the Monkey’s Paw story – a macabre “what if” story about wishing someone you loved could be brought back to life and the consequences of that actually happening.
Other adaptations have included short films such as the following one which was directed by Andre Barker in 1984.
The Monkey’s Paw | 1988 Short Film Remastered
The Monkey’s Paw | The Simpsons
Besides the other horror-type adaptions, there are quite a few spoofs of the story, with even The Simpsons getting in on the action with their very own Monkey’s Paw episode. If you don’t mind the quality, here is a preview of that episode.
The Monkey’s Paw is a short story that W.W. Jacobs wrote in 1902 exploring the idea of death and what would happen if someone was able to be brought back to life. It also explores the ideas of fate and destiny and what consequences we could face if we had the power to interfere. Download a copy of The Monkey’s Paw PDF here to read this scary gothic-style classic.