In "The Monkey's Paw," how does the author, W. W. Jacobs, set the mood and the tone?
The author of "The Monkey's Paw," W. W. Jacobs, sets the tone and mood of his story with descriptions of the weather and with foreshadowing.
In the exposition of his narrative, Jacobs writes that the night is wet and cold. Then, as Mr. White and his son Herbert play chess, Mr. White tries to distract his son because he is a reckless player who moves without thinking through his moves. He says, "Hark at the wind," hoping his son has not noticed his reckless move.
This recklessness of Mr. White's chess moves foreshadows his impulsive wishes on the monkey's paw, wishes that bring tragic consequences. Added to this, the description of the weather creates a foreboding atmosphere and mood.
This sense of foreboding continues as Mr. White grumbles,
"That's the worst of living so far out," bawled Mr. White, with sudden and unlooked-for violence; "of all the beastly, slushy, out-of-the-way places to live in, this is the worst. Pathway's a bog, and the road's a torrent."
This tone of foreboding continues with the arrival of Sergeant-Major Morris, an old acquaintance of Mr. White. He pulls from his pocket a monkey's paw, a talisman given him by an Indian fakir. But, as he mentions that he had three wishes granted by this paw, "his tones were so grave that a hush fell upon the group."
Further in the narrative, there is more mention of the weather as stormy, descriptions which continue the suspenseful and dark mood. In the final part of the story, this mood becomes nightmarish as the Whites have been told of their son's horrifying entanglement in a machine at work. Then, when the Whites cannot resign themselves to the death of their son, Mrs. White remembers that they have two more wishes and demands that her husband wish Herbert back to them. However, their inability to think through this wish effects terror as a mood in the end of the story.