What is the mood, setting and foreshadowing of "The Monkey's Paw"?

Expert Answers
mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The setting of W.W. Jacobs short story "The Monkey's Paw" is somewhere in the English countryside at a place called Laburnum Villa. The name of the place immediately provides a good deal of foreshadowing since "laburnum" is a type of poisonous tree and portends the tragedy which follows. The fact that it is a dark and stormy night provides more evidence to believe that there will not be a happy ending.

The mood of the story tends to go back and forth between somewhat light hearted scenes, but then dominated by suspense and horror. In the beginning things seem normal at the villa, and the Whites, father, mother and son, appear to be a happy family who get along well together. One hesitation is the description of Mr. White as being somewhat reckless in the chess game with his son. This foreshadows his eventual procurement of the paw despite the warnings of Sergeant Major Morris.

When Morris is describing the paw the reader is confronted by suspense as he describes how one man who had the paw eventually wished for death. Then, Herbert sees horrible images in the fire providing more foreshadowing for future events. But, the next morning everything seems normal again as "the dirty, shriveled little paw was pitched on the sideboard with a carelessness which betokened no great belief in its virtues." This atmosphere of normality, however, is broken with the tragic news of Herbert's death which leads to a sense of apprehension and abhorrence in the last episode of the story when Mr. White wishes for Herbert to be alive again.  

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

SETTING.  The setting of W. W. Jacobs' "The Monkey's Paw" is in Laburnam Villa, an out-of-the-way area (probably near London, where Jacobs grew up and where most of Jacobs' stories are set). Most of the action takes place at night.

MOOD.  The mood is dark and ominous--perfect for a horror story. In the opening chapter, it is a dark, windy and rainy night, and the Whites hear all sorts of sounds both outside and inside the house. The fireplace serves to warm and illuminate the house, but it also becomes a power of possible destructiveness (when the paw is tossed into it) and mystery (when Herbert sees faces in the flames).

FORESHADOWING.  The first examples are shown during the chess match, when Mr. White makes a "fatal mistake" while putting his pieces into "sharp and unnecessary perils." Throughout Sergeant-Major Morris' visit, he warns the Whites of the power of the paw--particularly that the previous owner's third wish had been for death-- but they fall on deaf ears. Herbert's twisted appearance upon his return from death is hinted at by the description of him being "caught in the machinery."