W. W. Jacobs uses foreshadowing in his short story "The Monkey's Paw" to give hints and clues to the reader about future events in the story. This foreshadowing creates an atmosphere of suspense and imparts an aura of the unexpected and the supernatural to the story.
Foreshadowing in "The Monkey's Paw" is pervasive and persistent throughout the story and begins with the first paragraph of part 1:
Without, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Laburnam Villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly.
Mr. and Mrs. White and their son, Herbert, live in their own world, isolated from the influences of the outside world. As the story unfolds, the reader might see the drawn blinds as a symbol of the family's rejection of Sergeant-Major Morris's caution to them about the monkey's paw—"I warn you of the consequences"—and the fire as a symbol of the White family's burning desire to use the paw "to be rich, and famous and happy."
Father and son were at chess, the former, who possessed ideas about the game involving radical changes, putting his king into such sharp and unnecessary perils ...
Jacobs provides insight here into Mr. White's impulsive single-mindedness in the use of the paw that results in placing his own son in "sharp and unnecessary peril."
The second paragraph of the story provides further clues of future events:
"Hark at the wind," said Mr. White, who, having seen a fatal mistake after it was too late, was amiably desirous of preventing his son from seeing it.
Later in the story, Mr. White makes a fatal mistake regarding his son, Herbert, of which no one in the White family is aware until "it [is] too late."
The sergeant-major's many warnings about the monkey's paw foreshadow dire consequences for the family, but the warnings go unheeded. Morris says that the first man who owned the monkey's paw had three wishes:
I don't know what the first two were, but the third was for death.
It's not until the very end of the story that this foreshadowing is fulfilled. Mr. White's first wish for two hundred pounds to pay off the mortgage on the house causes Herbert's accidental death at the factory.
Mrs. White insists that Mr. White make the second wish:
Go down and get it quickly, and wish our boy alive again.
Mr. White resists Mrs. White's desperate urges to make the second wish. "He's been dead ten days," he says, and he confides to her something he hadn't told her before: that their son had been so mangled by the factory machinery that he was unrecognizable, except by his clothing.
Mrs. White persists—"Bring him back," she cries—and Mr. White finally raises the monkey's paw in his hand and makes his second wish.
I wish my son alive again.
There's a loud knocking at the door, and Mrs. White is convinced that it's their son, Herbert, brought back to life. Fearing what's standing outside their home, Mr. White tries to prevent Mrs. White from opening the door. While Mrs. White struggles to unlock the door, Mr. White searches in the darkness on his hands and knees for the monkey's paw. He finds the mummified paw just as Mrs. White pulls back the bolt in the lock.
He heard the creaking of the bolt as it came slowly back, and at the same moment he found the monkey's paw, and frantically breathed his third and last wish.
As for Mr. White's third wish, W. W. Jacobs leaves it up to the reader to imagine what the nature of this third wish was, based on the reader's recollection of what Sergeant-Major Morris told them in part 1 of the story about the former owner's third wish.