How are metaphors and imagery used in the story?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Metaphor and imagery are used in "The Monkey's Paw" to enhance the horror of this story.  The amputated paw of a monkey is rather macabre of itself, but when it is taken by the old soldier and first thrown into the fire, the metaphor of a "talisman" suggests evil. As the story progresses, so does the metaphor of evil extend to the evil repercussions of greed and the desire to defy Fate. 

Alone before the fire, Herbert, the son, has a presentiment of his death in the "simian and horrible face." Yet, despite this disturbing image and a shiver running through him, Herbert dismisses his presentiment.  And, so, the White family first make a wish for wealth; then, when the wish proves fateful for the son, they wish to defy their fate.  This wish ends the macabre results of their second wish, foreshadowed in the "postman's knock" (imagery) and the image of the "mysterious man" who pauses three times at their gate.  The ghastly image of Herbert having been "caught in the machinery"  dazes Mrs. White as she contemplates the loss of her only child.  Mr. and Mrs. White must make a final wish, relenting to the course of Fate and its macabre events.