The Monkey's Paw

This study guide will help you analyse the text “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, and theme.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Monkey’s Paw”
Author: W.W. Jacobs
Published in: The Lady of the Barge
Date of Publication: 19o2
Genre:  Short Story

William Wymark Jacobs (1863 – 1943) was an English fiction writer. Most of his works (short stories and novels) are known for their humorous style. Nevertheless, the horror story “The Monkey’s Paw” remains one of the authors most famous and appreciated works.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 

Social setting

The social setting presents aspects of British society during the British Empire. The story shows how officers perceived the Indian colony but also the fascination of English people with the exotic country: “…he squared his broad shoulders in the chair and spoke of wild scenes and doughty deeds; of wars and plagues and strange peoples.”

"I'd like to go to India myself," said the old man, "just to look round a bit, you know."
"Better where you are," said the sergeant-major, shaking his head. (...)
"I should like to see those old temples and fakirs and jugglers,"…

The social setting also hints at generational gaps, as Herbert has radical ideas about the chess game and mocks the stories of the old Major and his father’s belief in magic. Note as well, that the first wish the man had was related to money which shows a certain materialistic view on the world.

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The Monkey's Paw

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