What is the Moral of This Story?
We do not need a monkey's paw to make wishes. We are free to make wishes at any time. And some of them come true. Unfortunately, it often turns out that the wishes that do come true result in disappointment—or worse. This fact of life seems to be the theme behind the theme of "The Monkey's Paw." We have all had the experience of getting something we wanted and then finding out that we made a mistake in wanting it. An example of a really serious mistake is marrying the wrong person. A less serious mistake is taking the wrong job. Benjamin Franklin wrote the following truth:
All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse.
Wishing is the same as wanting. We all want something we do not have much of the time.
Samuel Johnson wrote a long poem titled "The Vanity of Human Wishes" in which he offers many examples of how people are disappointed by getting something they want. Macbeth desperately wanted to become king, and that turned out to be the worst mistake he ever made. Both Schopenhauer and Emerson speak of a "law of compensation" which dictates that a price must be paid for everything we want.