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In the early paragraphs of W. W. Jacobs' "The Monkey's Paw," we discover that the Whites live in an "out-of-the-way" place called Laburnam Villa. (Laburnum is a type of tree of which all parts are poisonous, an ominous name for such a home.) The name of the town is not given, though virtually all of Jacobs' stories are set in England, usually in coastal or seaport towns. It is a cold, windy and rainy night, and the "Pathway's a bog, and the road is a torrent." Inside, the house is warm and comfortable, and sitting in front of the fireplace proves to be a perfect place for the eerie story that Sergeant-Major Morris presents about the monkey's paw. Following Morris' departure, the wind outside causes an upstairs door to bang, and "A silence unusual and depressing settled upon all three." After his parents go to bed, Herbert sits alone "in the darkness, gazing at the dying fire, and seeing faces in it."
The "brightness of the wintry sun next morning" proved to be a false promise of a better day. Following Herbert's death, Jacobs introduces another setting always indicative of death: the cemetery. The old couple return from burying Herbert to the darkness of their house, with most of the remaining action taking place at night. The candle threw "pulsating shadows on the ceiling and walls," further magnifying the setting of impending evil. Jacobs adds additional sounds of terror--a creaking stair, a rattling chain, and a "perfect fusillade of knocks reverberated through the house." Jacobs creates a traditional gothic setting for his horror story, ending it with the ambivalent conclusion that suggests the unseen return of Herbert's corpse.
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