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How are "The Monkey's Paw" and "The Third Wish" plot lines similar?possibly include:...

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laurenhey | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 2, 2010 at 5:59 AM via web

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How are "The Monkey's Paw" and "The Third Wish" plot lines similar?

possibly include: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 2, 2010 at 12:18 PM (Answer #1)

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"The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs and "The Third Wish" by Joan Aiken are two stories which obviously share several plot elements.

In terms of exposition, each story has a perfectly content protagonist who is simply doing a normal thing--playing chess and driving.  The inciting action is also similar, in that each protagonist is suddenly and unexpectedly given the ability to make wishes that come true.  The rising acting is not as similar, in that the monkey's paw is bringing bad luck and the leaves given by the swan are bringing good luck.  The climax/turning point is similar, as a death is involved.  The falling action is not particularly similar, nor is the denouement.

While the two works have points of similarities, of course, the major difference between the two can be found more in the tone and mood of the stories.  "The Monkey's Paw" is much darker and more sinister, as demonstrated first by the setting.  The weather is foul, the visitor is somewhat mysterious, as is the legend of the paw.  Despite the auspiciousness of getting to make wishes come true, tragic things are clearly ahead.  In contrast, "The Third Wish" reads more like a fairy tale which has magical and romantic elements, and the tragedy is more mournful and sad than awful and horrific.  Clearly the themes are different, as well.

It's interesting to make the comparison because the idea of wishes is unique enough to merit it; however, the stories are probably more different than alike. 

Lori Steinbach

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