Would things have turned out better if Mr. and Mrs. White had phrased the second wish more carefully in the story "The Monkey's Paw"?

Expert Answers
cybil eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As readers, we'd like to hope that the Whites could have had Herbert restored to them. If Mr. White had wished him alive and whole again, just as he was before he had his accident, perhaps he could have appeared in that condition. 

However, we have to remember the warning Sgt. Maj. Morris delivered when he told them about the history of the monkey's paw: "Those who interfere with fate do so to their sorrow." Even if Herbert had returned successfully, then, something else dreadful would have happened as punishment for tampering with fate. As quickly as Mr. White makes the wishes--without really thinking about them, he could easily make another that would jeopardize what he had gained. The author Jacobs would have found some way to make his point, again something stated by Sgt. Maj. Morris: "fate rules people's lives." The Whites cannot control what happens to them.

pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

No, the monkey's paw was an instrument of dark magic, designed to bring misery to any greedy human who dared try to achieve personal gain through its use. 

It is clear from the previoius owners, both the first owner, whose third wish was for death and Sergeant Major Morris that the act of wishing in itself brings with it severe and tragic consequences.

The lesson that should have been clear to the Whites after hearing the stories from Sergeant Major Morris, is that wishing will bring more harm than good. 

The Whites could not have gained anything but misery and sorrow by using the monkey's paw that was its intended goal.