How does W.W.Jacobs make "the Monkey's Paw" an effective ghost story?

Essay by jaynesimoHigh School, 11th gradeA+, January 2006

download word file, 3 pages 3.7

The story commences with a sudden value of tension, terror and a sense of eeriness in the atmosphere. The setting is described as a "cold and wet night"; this is entered into the story to give the readers an immediate sense of uncanniness and terror.

However, promptly after that build of tension Jacobs begins to describe the living conditions inside the house. He describes this as a warm and cosy home. This description includes these following quotes; "the blinds were drawn", "the fire burned brightly" and in the last quote the writer tries to send across a happy family vibe to his reader by saying, "the father and son were at chess". This now plays with our emotions as now we do not know whether to be scared of the surroundings outside of the house, or to feel as if everything is safe in the house. Jacobs has cleverly made us confused and drawn between the two.

Furthermore, the writer sustains the tension in the story by saying, "this is the worst of living so far out" and "of all the beastly, slushy and out-of-the-way places to live in, this is the worst". W.W.Jacobs does this to destroy that lovely, calm feeling we once had for the house, and replaces it with a feeling of isolation and fear. Wee feel fearful as to what would happen if anything was to go wrong no one could hear them, no one could save them, no one would be there for them to run to.

Jacobs has intelligently kept us waiting on the edges of our seats, because we immediately feel like something is going to go wrong. It is like he is setting down tiny indicators as to the complexity of the story by creating high and low tension points.

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