What is the point of view in "The Monkey's Paw"?

Expert Answers
kathik eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs is written in the third person point of view. We can tell this because of the pronouns the narrator uses throughout. If he/she used the pronouns "I, me, we, and us," in the narration of the story (dialogue is usually in first person no matter the point of view of a story), we would know the point of view is first person. But when the narrator uses "He, she, they, them," as Jacobs does, the point of view is third person. This particular narrator would be considered an objective narrator. He/she tells us the story of "The Monkey's Paw" as a neutral observer. The narrator is not a person from within the story, but someone on the outside. 

"The matches fell from his hand. He stood motionless, his breath suspended until the knock was repeated. Then he turned and fled swiftly back to his room, and closed the door behind him. A third knock sounded through the house" (Jacobs 15).

You can see here that the narrator is just reporting what he/she observes. This is what an objective narrator does. "The Monkey's Paw" is written in third person objective point of view. 

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think you're exactly right about "The Monkey's Paw" being written in third person omniscient.  The entire beginning of the story addresses the characters by their proper, more formal names:  Mr. White, Mrs. White, Sergeant Major Morris.  Note the following line and you'll see the third person references (she, he, and they as opposed to I, me, and my) as well as the omniscient (all-knowing) point of view:

She broke off suddenly as the sinister meaning of the assurance dawned upon her and she saw the awful confirmation of her fears in the other's averted face. She caught her breath, and turning to her slower-witted husband, laid her trembling old hand upon his. There was a long silence.

rareynolds eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story is written in third person. Is the narrator omniscient? I would say from the outset that that would seem to be the case; the narrator seems to know what is going on inside the heads of the parents and the son. It is less clear that the narrator has the same access to the thoughts of the sergeant-major. What I begin to suspect is that the sergeant-major is a kind of proxy for the narrator, and the narrator is a kind of con man: all this business about the Monkey's Paw can't be true, can it? And the narrator, with the sergeant-major, are serving this story up with straight faces. It is as if the reader is in the same position as the man and his son: dare we believe it? So call the point of view, 3rd person trickster!


mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

That the story "Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs is written in omniscient narrator is evinced in passages in which the characters are described as thinking something or doing something in a manner that is described by the narrator.  Here are examples:

"Likely," said Herbert, with pretended horror.

Herbert sat alone in the darkness, gazing at the dying fire, and seeing faces in it.

She [Mrs. White] broke off suddenly as the sinister meaning of the assurance dawned upon her and she saw the awful confirmation of her fears in the other's averted face.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yep, this story is definitely written in third person omniscient. The two points of view that are often confused and slightly difficult to separate are the omniscient point of view and then the third person limited, which is identified because we are still told the story in the third person (he, they etc), but we still follow the action from the perspective of one person. It is like we are spectators looking in but following one of the characters alone. In this story we follow all characters and do not just zoom in on one, indicating that it is told using the omniscient point of view.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First person narration will use me, my, mine, and etc. Second person will use you, your, yours, and etc. Third person will use everything else. Third person omniscient is all seeing/all knowing about each of the characters. In the first paragraph we find out that the father is desirous, grim, violent (so to speak), The wife is soothing. She and the son are sharing knowing looks. etc. We look into each of the characters and their reactions.

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The point of view is 3rd person limited.  This means that there is an outside narrator who is telling the story, and not one character him or herself (that would be 1st person POV).  The "limited" part means that although the narrator is "above" the story, the story still focuses on following one person only.  In the case, the focus is on Mr. White, and readers see the story through his eyes.

ericlee123 | Student

Because you only see the actions of each character, the story is objective point of view.

malaknasser | Student

yeah i agree with sullymonster it a 3rd person point of view

meisam | Student


snowboardingdancer | Student

sullymonster is right, the view is third person limited, so you can't know what the characters are thinking but you know everything they say.