How does the monkey's paw influence the characters of Mr. and Mrs. White?

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The characters of Mr. and Mrs. White seem to change in opposite ways in W.W. Jacobs's short story "The Monkey's Paw." In the beginning of the story, Mr. White appears to be something of a risk taker. First, the narrator claims Mr. White was involved in "radical changes" when it came to playing chess with his son Herbert. He tended to risk his king by putting the piece "into such sharp and unnecessary perils." Second, Mr. White takes a chance that the monkey's paw is indeed some magical charm and buys it from Sergeant Major Morris. Unknowingly, the procurement of the talisman puts his family into peril. On the other hand, Mrs. White appears cautious and conservative. She is initially repulsed by the monkey's paw, but later seems to regard it as insignificant. She even joins Herbert in making jokes about it: "Sounds like the Arabian Nights. . . Don't you think you might wish for four pairs of hands for me?"

After the evil of the monkey's paw is revealed when Herbert turns up dead and the couple is awarded two hundred pounds, the old man and woman change in different ways. In her grief over the loss of her son, Mrs. White becomes the gambler, insisting that Mr. White make another wish for Herbert to come back to life. In contrast, Mr. White becomes cautious and realizes the thing he wished for will not ease his wife's grief. Finally, he acts conservatively by wishing away the walking corpse that bangs on their door before his wife can let it in. Because of the evil which has pervaded their lives, Mr. and Mrs. White undergo "radical" changes in their willingness to take risks.

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The Monkey's Paw

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