What are some examples of foreshadowing in The Monkey's Paw?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Foreshadowing in "The Monkey's Paw" serves to alert the reader that misfortune may lay ahead.

Foreshadowing: In the exposition Mr. White tries to distract his son from seeing the error he has made in the last move of his chess piece. What is interesting about this foreshadowing is the description of his motive:

Mr. White...having seen a fatal mistake after it was too late, was amiably desirous of preventing his son from seeing it [his move].

Incident that occurs: Later, Mr. White, having made the fatal "move" of wishing on the monkey's paw that the sergeant urged him to throw away, wishes for £200 to pay off his mortgage, and in so doing, unintentionally causes his son to die in order for them to receive the accident insurance money that pays off the mortgage. Later, Mr. White tries to undo his fatal mistake by wishing his son back to life just as he tries at chess to undo his "fatal" mistake by distracting his opponent.

Foreshadowing: Sergeant Major Morris clearly indicates that he is afraid of the monkey's paw. For instance, his teeth chatter against the glass. Then when he tells the Whites that the previous owner had his first two wishes granted but his third was for death, Morris hints at the danger connected to the monkey's paw.

Incident that occurs: After Herbert is killed at work and the Whites receive the £200, they are lonely and miss Herbert so badly that Mrs. White begs Mr. White to wish their boy back. This, then, is their second wish: to have Herbert return to them. However, they forget that their son's body has been mangled by machinery.

"Don't let it in," cried the old man, trembling....[he] was on his hands and knees groping wildly on the floor in search of the paw. If only he could find it before the thing outside got in.

When Mr. White retrieves the paw, he makes the third wish, and it is also for death.

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the first examples is the description of the way that Mr. White plays chess. His style is reckless to the point that others comment on it. In the game they are playing as the story opens, Mr. White only sees that he's made a huge mistake after the fact. He tries to distract his son by commenting on the wind, "having seen [the] fatal mistake after it was too late." This foreshadows how the family's wishes on the paw will ultimately affect them.

Another example would be the way that Morris responds to the request that he tell the tale of the Monkey's Paw. Clearly, he would very much like never to speak of it, as he knows there could be terrible consequences. This foreshadows the terrible consequences of using the paw.

When Morris tells the tale and sees that his hosts are interested in the paw, he throws it upon the fire. When Mr. White snatches it out, Morris says, "better let it burn." Clearly, this artifact will bring no joy to the one who possesses it and uses the three wishes.