"The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs features the number three as a significant number. Explain the significance of this number in the story.

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“The Monkey’s Paw” focuses on the idea of fate and free will. The paw was created in the story to “show that fate ruled people’s lives and that those who tried to change it would be sorry.” The original magic placed on the paw would give three men three wishes each. The intended outcome was that each of the wishes would teach the men that any attempt to circumvent fate would come at a significant cost—making them the arbiters of their own misfortune. The number three is significant in the story because three is tied psychologically, through superstition, to fate.

A common saying in England and the United States is “bad luck comes in threes” or even “death comes in threes.” This superstitious saying relates an idea central to the concept of three as a number, that it is a powerful force in the natural world. Three is given mystical properties due to its religious connotations, place in nature and mathematics, and association with both perfection and oddity. All of...

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