What are the differences and similarities between the setting in Monkey's Paw and The Third Wish?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While the concept of having three wishes is utilized in both short stories, "The Monkey's Paw" and "The Third Wish," there are few other similarities between these two stories. There is no question that the settings of these stories differ greatly.

In the narrative of W.W. Jacobs's "The Monkey's Paw," the weather is windy and cold. There is so much rain in this "slushy out-of-the-way place" that the path to the house is "a bog," and the road does not even resemble a street; instead it is described by Mr. White as a "torrent." The Whites, an older couple, spend most of their time inside their home in which the atmosphere is often tense and the mood dark. Even the fire is not comforting. The only time that they are outside is the occasion of Herbert's funeral. Even his haunting return when he is brought back by the second wish takes place outside the Whites' door where Mr. and Mrs. White huddle on the inside.

On the other hand, the setting of "The Third Wish" is comprised of two places. The first is the forest of Savemake and a canal in which lovely swans live along with a "little man all in green with a golden crown and long beard," and the second is Mr. Peters's home that is near the river. Thus, there is activity outdoors and indoors. Further, there is a pastoral setting as cows are milked, and eggs gathered. The swans visit by the bench where Mr. Peters sits, and Mr. Peters dies in his bed holding a swan feather and a leaf, for he has had the last of his three wishes.

mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Monkey's Pay opens during a stormy night. The entire story takes place inside the White's house. There are mentions of things that happened outside of the house, their son being killed at work, but the whole story is set inside. 

In The Third Wish, the story opens outside. It is a beautiful day. Most of the story is set outside. The story centers on a swan. So much of the story and the conversations take place outside. Only small parts of the story are actually set inside the house.

The similarities of the two stories settings are few. With The Monkey's Pay, the entire story is set inside a house. With The Third Wish, only small parts are inside. The very ending of The Third Wish is set inside, while the ending of The Monkey's Pay is Mrs. White opening the front door. The differences are immense. You can tell, just by the settings, that the two stories are different. Mr. and Mrs. White's story is all about selfish wants. Their wishes are made for personal gain. The setting being inside the house the whole time, shows a negative aspect to their wishes. It is almost a forewarning. In The Third Wish, you see that with the setting being in a more open, peaceful place, the story is going in a different direction. With the setting being in nature, we can see that there is goodness behind the wishes. Both stories try to tell us that you can't tempt fate. The settings of both, tell us more about the people who are granted these wishes.