Compare the role fate played in "The Monkey's Paw," by W.W. Jacobs and “Antigone” by Sophocles.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Fate plays a central role in both W.W. Jacob's short story, "The Monkey's Paw," and in Sophocles' play, "Antigone." In "The Monkey's Paw," the Sergeant-Major's comments that the curse on the paw was placed there by a "fakir," "...a very holy man. He wanted to show that fate ruled people's lives." This presents, then, the premise that regardless of what happens with the wishes one makes with the paw, that fate has the final say—not the one who makes the wish. When the Whites' son is killed the following day, the family receives the money they wished for, but it comes in a tragic way—in compensation for the son death at work. What the couple forgets is that the young man's fate was to die, NOT that the wishing for the money caused his death. It seems to them that the paw brought the money by causing the son's death. They also both believe that the paw can also return their son to them. Mrs. White fervently wishes her son be brought back to her, though Mr. White believes it a terrible idea, sure their boy will be returned to them as he died. We are never sure if the paw really works: there is a knocking on the door to represent the return of the now long-dead, mangled body of their son; and, there is the emptiness when the door is opened as Mr. White wishes the son stay dead and buried.

In Sophocles' "Antigone," Creon (the King after Oedipus, and Antigone's uncle) is angry because Antigone has tried to bury her brother, which Creon outlawed, as Creon considers Polyneices an enemy of the state. He orders that Antigone (who is also to marry his son Haemon) is to be put to death for breaking his law. Everyone pleads for Creon to change his mind: Ismene, Antigone's sister; Haemon; even the soothsayer, Teiresias, who warns the King that if he continues, he will lose his son, and great "calamity" will befall Thebes. Creon refuses to listen to any reason. Antigone is fated to die. For even after Creon changes his mind, he finds that Antigone killed herself, Haemon, also, because of her death, and finally Eurydice (Creon's wife) because of her son's death.

As with "The Monkey's Paw," Creon tries to "fix" what has been done, but it is too late. Once Teiresias issues his warning and Creon does not comply, is sealed: she is going to die, and this is Antigone's fate. There is nothing Creon can do once he passes his sentence upon her.

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