46 pages 1 hour read

W.W. Jacobs

The Monkey's Paw

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1902

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“The Monkey’s Paw”

  • Genre: Fiction; short story; horror
  • Originally Published: 1902
  • Reading Level/Interest: Adult; grades 9-12
  • Structure/Length: 3 parts; approximately 12-15 pages
  • Protagonist and Central Conflict: The aged Mr. White faces temptation when he receives a monkey’s paw that is said to both grant wishes and invite misfortune. Just after he makes his first wish, his family meets sudden calamity.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Violent death         

W. W. Jacobs, Author

  • Bio: 1863-1943; Native Londoner and son of a dock worker and wharf manager; lost his mother at an early age; attended prep school and college in spite of modest upbringing; married suffragette Agnes Eleanor Williams and had five children; playwright and prolific short story writer who wrote often about shipping and maritime themes and was known for his horror stories and supernatural tales; “The Monkey’s Paw” has been adapted multiple times for film, including in an episode of popular animated TV series The Simpsons
  • Other Works: Many Cargoes (1896); The Ghost of Jerry Bundler (1899); The Lady of the Barge (1902); “The Toll-House” (1909)
  • Awards: None                 

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Unit:

  • The Dangers of Wishful Thinking
  • The Finality of Death
  • Coincidence Versus the Supernatural

STUDY OBJECTIVES: In accomplishing the components of this Unit, students will:

  • Gain an understanding of the horror genre by analyzing elements of suspense and foreshadowing.