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How does W.W. Jacobs use suspense and irony to create theme in his short story?  

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hargobind | Student

Posted April 3, 2012 at 7:06 AM via web

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How does W.W. Jacobs use suspense and irony to create theme in his short story?  

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted April 5, 2012 at 12:46 AM (Answer #1)

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Through suspense and irony, Jacobs creates the theme of fate and chance in "The Monkey's Paw.". He uses the suspense associated with the monkey's paw to create the theme of fate and chance. The Whites are all interested in the story behind the monkey's paw. Even though Mr. White is skeptical, he rescues the monkey's paw from the fire. Then the son makes jokes about asking for 200 pounds. After wishing for 200 pounds, an eerie feeling settles in the Whites' house:

The atmosphere in the White's little house grows tense and ominous after Mr. White has wished on the paw. The wind rises outside, and "a silence unusual and depressing settled upon all three."

Here the suspense creates a strange atmosphere. The Whites experience a strange feeling as they hear the wind rise outside. The unusual atmosphere leaves the Whites with an uneasy feeling. Fate begins its workings immediately. 

As chance would have it, the next morning, after Herbert has gone to work, a man comes to the Whites' house with horrible news. Herbert has been killed and the company he works for desires to compensate with 200 pounds. Strangely enough, Mr. White's wish has been granted. Ironically, his son's death brings about the 200 pounds. It is ironic in that Herbert suggested wishing for 200 pounds and, at his death, the wish has been granted. 

The irony and suspense creates the theme of fate and chance as Mr. White inteferes with fate:

And so, in spite of the original warning of the fakir, the story of the first owner of the monkey's paw, who wished for death at the end, and the warnings of their friend Morris, the Whites attempt to interfere with fate, with terrible consequences.

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