In "The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs, do we understand that when man's fate is controlled by man, fate gets him bad ends?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps the message of W. W. Jacobs's short story "The Monkey's Paw" is not so much that when man controls his fate there are disastrous results as it is that when man thinks he is in control of his own fate, there are often effects that he fails to consider that can cause disastrous results.  A reexamination of the three wishes of the Whites will attest to this statement.

For instance, when Mr. White makes his first wish for two hundred pounds, he does not specify how he should receive this large sum.  Left to chance, the results are devastating to the White family, since the money is attained frim the insurance policy on their son's accidental death.  Then, when the disconsolate parents cannot bear to be without their son and wish for his return, they again do not predict all that can happen and, as a result, their wish is not specific enough to prevent the grotesque and horrifying result.  It is their final wish that comes true as they have hoped because there are no variables of chance allowed in this wish.