Do you believe Mr. White's first wish was a wise one?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is very easy to read with smug self-satisfaction this chilling tale and completely ignore the pull on human temptation and curiosity that lies at the heart of this tale. Clearly there are enough carefully placed hints given throughout the start of the story to indicate the truth of the soldier's claim about the monkey's paw - for example, his manner and composure whilst telling the White family about the monkey's paw, his saying that "it has caused enough mischief already" and his reluctance to part with the paw, even for money.

However, despite these warning clues, the tale clearly smacks of childish ghost stories, completely separate from the rational world in which we live. It is clear that the son and Mrs. White treat this paw as nothing more than an oddity, a joke to be played with, and thus their first wish evidently displays this opinion - it is wished with half-seriousness, with Mr. White "smiling shamefacedly at his own credulity". This shows that they half expected nothing to happen with this interesting momento from India. However, the power of human curiosity is not to be underestimated and I guess that if we are honest with ourselves in the same situation we would probably have made such a wish in such a fashion just to see what would happen.