Using the story “Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs I shall explain how the author creates fear and tension. “Monkey’s Paw” is a melodrama and a factual horror story with a lot of heightened action and emotion, which deals with mystery and death. All major horror scenes are unseen. The only thing that is seen is the drama within the house; this gives more tension and fear because you have to imagine the horror. It is a short story therefore all the information has to be condensed as much as possible. The story was written during the nineteenth century, it is approximately 150 years old.
It is about a monkey’s paw which grants three wishes. In the story a family ask for their wishes however with each wish there were also consequences. The mood at the start of the story is a nice, homely atmosphere, “the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly. Father and son were at chess. ” This shows that inside every thing is calm and cosy. There are no feelings of dismay. The weather outside is menacing as it is cold and wet as opposed to inside where it is warm; “the night was cold and wet. ” This is a typical method of creating fear and tension.
It is based at night time to give a feeling of darkness and fear. As the sergeant major approached the house the fear and tension increased even more. “as the gate banged to loudly and heavy footsteps came towards the door. ” This builds up tension, because the Whites in their homely house and the gate is loudly banged and you start hear heavy footstep coming towards the door. It seems as the sergeant major walks into the house he brings that entire looming mood outside, inside the house. There is also a sense of anticipation.
“His three listeners leaned forward eagerly. ” These listeners are not only the Whites they are also the readers. The author uses this method of anticipation to get the reader attention and to show something chilling is going to happen. This is a very good method for creating fear; the readers begin to anticipate fear and danger. The monkey’s paw is exotic and mystical. The author used a monkey’s paw instead a dog’s paw because in the nineteenth century a monkey was not an animal in which people saw everyday. A monkey back then was bizarre and mysterious.
The explanation of the spell which was cast on the monkey’s paw by a fakir really builds up the fear and tension. “He wanted to show that fate ruled people’s lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow. ” This was the general message which the family should have taken into consideration. The sergeant major gave Mr. White advice about the monkey’s paw, “Better let it burn,” and “If you must wish … wish for something sensible. ” The sergeant major’s general advice is leave the monkey’s paw alone. This gives us the sense of fear for the unknown.
It shows the monkey’s paw is not good and dread will come from it. Like all mystical stories there is always one person who does not believe and makes jokes about the situation. In this case the non believer is Mrs White, “Don’t you think you might wish for four pairs of hands for me? ” This does alarm the sergeant major because the family don’t realise the consequences of the monkey’s paw. The chords on the piano crashed to build up the tension, “A fine crash from the piano”. This is a good way to create tension because it is unexpected therefore the family and the reader have a sense of fear.
This crash from the piano was one of the frightening things that happen when the first wish was made. The second was the sudden cry from the old man from when the monkey’s paw moved on his hand; “interrupted by a shuddering cry from the old man” “it moved he cried. ” All these action are implications of terror of the monkey’s paw. They are all signs to inform the family to take the sergeant major advice and leave the monkey’s paw. Another implication to this was more impersonal as only Herbert experienced it. Herbert was alone in the dark and he saw a face in the fire, “gazing at the dying fire, and seeing faces in it.