Character Essay on Mr. White "The Monkey's Paw"ÃÂ by William Wymark Jacobs Mr. White is a doddering elderly man who would rather stick to his principles about how chess is to be played than actually win; however, he is not above using the strategy of distraction while playing a game of chess with his son. He believes he can beat Herbert, his son, by conversing with his wife during the game. Later, he realizes both his wife and son knew his little plan. When his family catches him in the act, and Mrs. White says, "Never mind dear, perhaps you'll win the next one,"ÃÂ he is sheepish and feels guilty.
His feeling of guilt shows us that he really is a nice guy and isn't actually bent on winning at all costs. He neither gets angry nor denies what he was trying to do.
The reader gains another insight into Mr.
White's character when his friend, the Sergeant, comes to call. Mr. White is very conversational, friendly, and curious about what his friend has to say. When the monkey's paw is thrown into the fire, Mr. White snatches it right out again; it is clear that Mr. White is not a man who will let opportunity pass him by. The Sergeant begs him to throw it back in the fire, but Mr. White refuses to listen. He is very self-confident and values his own opinions more than those of his friends. When the Sergeant leaves, Mr. White and his family try to decide what to wish for. Mr. White is quite laughable at his conviction that the paw will work, but after awhile the rest of the family influences him to change his mind.
Upon hearing of the death of their son, Mr. White is overcome with grief, and he even faints. This shows, once again, that Mr. White is a very real person who loved his son. This is important because when Mrs. White suggests using the paw to bring back their son, and Mr. White is against it, we know it is because of fear and not because he didn't love Herbert.
At the very end of the story we see Mr. White's inner nature at its fullness. We see him cower and defy the wishes of his wife and ruin the last chance to see his son again because of fear. His fear of seeing his son after being dead for 10 days is so overpowering to him that he lets all other possibilities go to the wind. Who knows what could have happened at the end of the story if Mr. White hadn't let his inner terror take control of him.
Throughout the entire story, the author shows the reader parts of Mr. White's inner character by the way he reacts in different situations. This gives the reader a very well-rounded perspective of Mr. White's character. I like this kind of story best because I end up feeling like I know the characters personally.