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How does the opening scene of this story help to create a mood of mystery and...

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unie93 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 26, 2009 at 6:04 AM via web

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How does the opening scene of this story help to create a mood of mystery and uneasiness and how is this mood sustained throughtout the story?

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fernholz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted October 26, 2009 at 6:47 AM (Answer #1)

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In The Monkey's Paw W.W. Jacobs describes the setting. Jacobs states, "Without, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlor of Laburnam Villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly. Father and son were at chess, the former, who possessed ideas about the game involving radical changes, putting his king into such sharp and unnecessary perils that it even provoked comment from the white-haired old lady knitting placidly by the fire." This first paragraph of the story evokes a mysteriousness about the characters in the story. The author uses words such as, "perils, fatal mistake, grimly, and worst" to describe things in the story. This mood is set throughout the whole story. The family continues to make mistakes and behave in a wrestless, spontaneous, and dangerous way. They will do whatever it takes to get their wishes answered, but they lose in the end.

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mrcstj55 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 26, 2009 at 12:04 PM (Answer #2)

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The uneasiness is established in the first sentence. Two separate settings are given as we here about a stormy and dark outer setting (bad) and the warm cozy interior of Lakesnam Villa (good).

There is nothing mysterious about the inside setting. Whatever mystery we learn of must come from the outside. The Major is mysterious but he was not until he left and ventured outside...to India. He brings that mystery back to the Whites. Mrs. White is uneasy about his entrance and tried to herd him further into the good setting. It is to no avail as he has brought the monkey's paw with him. It taints the Whites with the most mysterious element there is, a wish. There is mystery in what the wish will be and even more mystery in whether it will come true..and finally in how it wil come true.

Mr. White is uneasy about making the wishes, we hear how they are all uneasy after the Major leaves, and it builds throughout as we see the visitor from Maw and Meggins and to that fateful night when they lay in bed and he hears his disconsolate wife before making his way down to make what we believe is the final wish.

The incomplete resolution provides the final lasting mystery and uneasiness as we fill in the unanswered questions and try to decide what we would do in that situation.

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