Friday, December 24, 2010

Review: The Monkey's Paw

Ghost Stories:
Peter Washington (editor)
Everyman's Library (2008), Hardcover, 416 pages

‘It had a spell put on it (the monkey’s paw) … He wanted to show that fate ruled people’s lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow.’ (p. 107)

The Monkey’s Paw is a horror short story written in 1902 by William Wymark Jacobs.

The paw of a dead monkey is a talisman that grants its possessors three wishes. But the wishes, of course, come with a price to pay.

The White family becomes the owner of this monkey’s paw, a ‘gift’ from their friend Sergeant-Major Morris (just arrived from India).
Mr White’s first wish is 200 pounds. The price is very high: the life of his son.

Mrs White asks to his husband to express their second wish: Herbert (their son) back to life. Mr White has seen the mutilated corpse of his son and disagrees with his wife about this second wish.

But at the end, and after expressing the wish to the monkey’s paw ... the Whites hear knocking at the door …
‘A third knock sounded through the house.
- What’s that?, cried the old woman.
- A rat, said the old man in shaking tones, a rat. It passed me on the stairs.’ (p.117)

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