How does the setting of "The Monkey's Paw" help to create the story's mood?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The setting of a story consists of the location and description of the place where the action takes place. It also serves as the backdrop that determines the tone and atmosphere of the situation.

The Monkey's Paw is a story told in the "three-wish folk tale" form, and meant to be a cautionary tale. It is also a Gothic story based on the following elements found in the setting:

  • isolation
  • nature (the night was cold and wet)

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....

  • the encounter with the supernatural (the entrance of the monkey's paw in their lives)

This being said, Laburnam Villa at nighttime, cold, wet, isolated, helps to create the mood of the story by offering the perfect Gothic setting that will allow for anything to happen. Even the main characters wonder what people think when they choose a place such as this to live in. You can see that both, the setting and the characters, are already creating the mood of anxiety, desolation and discomfort that will propitiate the rest of the events. 

The setting also sets the characters up for failure, and the reader knows it: If "something bad" were to happen to them, what could they do about it? They are in a faraway place and with nature working against them. All of these factors promote the sense of impending doom that will eventually wreak havoc in this tale.