How are "The Monkeys Paw" and "The Third Wish" different?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Three wishes he wants, the clever man! Well, I have yet to hear of the human being who made any good use of his three wishes-they mostly end up worse off than they started. Take your wishes then, don't blame me if you spend the last wish in undoing the work of the other two." This is what Mr. Peters is told in The Third Wish. The Monkey's Paw and The Third Wish are stories about three wishes being granted to someone. 

In The Monkey's Paw, W.W. Jacobs, tells the story of a Mr. and Mrs. White, who take charge of a cursed monkey's paw. The paw has magical powers to grant a person three wishes. The White's are warned that the paw will only cause heart ache. They use the paw for selfish wishes, not knowing that the course of fate is sealed with the first wish. It leads to the death of their son, and Mr. White having to use the last wish to fix the first two.

In The Third Wish, Joan Aiken, tells a similar story of three wishes. Mr. Peters demands three wishes for saving the swan's life. However, Mr. Peters, is wiser to the affects of the three wishes. He may start off as selfish, but his actions are done in love. His love for Leita causes him to become unselfish. He has compassion on her sadness, thus causing him to make a second wish. In making the second wish, for his wife to return to being a swan, he shows true love. Leita and her sister return his love, by staying with him until his death. The Third Wish is a story about love. The love that Mr. Peters had, dictates how the wishes are used. The Monkey's Pay is a story about greed. The greed that Mr. White had, leads to the death of his son and the breakdown of his wife.

Though the two stories are similar, they both have to do with being granted three wishes, they are two different takes on the same theme. The two stories show you, the reader, that there are consequences with every action. The actions we take affect everything and everyone around us.