The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs

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

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"Sounds like the Arabian Nights," said Mrs. White, as she rose and began to set the supper. "Don't you think you might wish for four pairs of hands for me?"

This is Mrs. White's somewhat flippant response to the monkey's paw. At this stage in the story, it's all just a bit of a game, a spot of harmless fun. But Mrs. White's reference to the Arabian Nights foreshadows the disturbing events that take place later on in the story. There are a number of tales in the Arabian Nights, but the one to which Mrs. White appears to allude is that of Aladdin. In the story of Aladdin, he famously makes three wishes which don't quite turn out the way he expects or wants. And the same is true in the case of "The Monkey's Paw."

"Well, why don't you have three, sir?" said Herbert White, cleverly.

The soldier regarded him in the way that middle age is wont to regard presumptuous youth. "I have," he said, quietly, and his blotchy face whitened.

Herbert, the curious young man wants to know why the sergeant-major hasn't used the monkey's paw to make three wishes. The sergeant-major replies that he has, but the look on his face tells us that the outcome wasn't a very pleasant one. What was originally just a bit of after-dinner fun has suddenly turned into something more sinister and dangerous.

"It had a spell put on it by an old fakir," said the sergeant-major, "a very holy man. He wanted to show that fate ruled people's lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow."

The warning from the Indian holy man really couldn't be much clearer. Our lives are subject to fate; any attempt to change that through making wishes is doomed, not just to failure but to disaster. Yet, tragically, Mr. and Mrs. White fail to heed that warning, with tragic, terrifying consequences.

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