Major Themes in The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs


Every action or word has a consequence that may or may not be desirable. That is an inviolable reality and the great the magnitude of action, greater is the magnitude of consequence.

In the story, the characters meddle with great powers that are inexplicable and end paying consequences that life-altering. The first possessor ended up asking for his death as his final wish.

Morris had to live in constant fear of the same. In the end, Mr. White realizes the harsh lesson that all actions have consequences and one has to live with them.

Due to this, he corrects his second wish by using the third one to cancel it. He recognizes the error of his ways and greed for money that resulted in their son losing his life.

Dreams and Wishes

The story highlights the power of our dreams and wishes. People in the story, fall for their weaknesses like greed for material wealth and end up doing more damage than good to their lives.

Dreams and wishes are often exorbitant and unrealistic but people often forget the price and cost involved in case they came true. The same happens with the Whites as they end up losing their only son for a paltry two hundred pounds.


The story paints an important lesson for all the characters and through them the readers. People should not tempt fate or play with things that are beyond their understanding.

Meddling with fate and things that are inexplicable can often result in unexpected, unpredictable and unpleasant consequences. In other words, tempting fate is playing with fire and it can lead to a catastrophe if it goes out of hand.

Magic & Mystery

The story is centered on the magical powers of an exotic object, a cursed monkey’s paw. The paw is capable of answering wishes but with grave consequences. The Whites as well Morris is fascinated by its tail and attributes.

They are also attracted to other exotic objects and stories of places like India. There is also mystery around the number three with three wishes granted to three people by the paw.

The family also has three people- father, mother, and son. After the second wish, there are three knocks on the door. These tie into the old myth around the bad fortune around the unlucky number three.