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The Monkey's Paw (1902) - W. W. Jacobs
Related: 1900s literature - fiction - 1902 - monkey
"Be careful what you wish for, you may receive it." -- Anonymous
The Monkey's Paw (1902) - W. W. Jacobs [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Inspired by The Monkey's Paw (1902) - W. W. Jacobs
The Monkey's Paw is a short story by W.W. Jacobs, written in 1902. In the story, the paw of a dead monkey is a talisman that grants the possessor three wishes, but the wishes come with an enormous price.
The story is based on traditional stories in which three wishes are granted. There are always three wishes granted.
The first wish is made carelessly; it is granted, but in a horrific manner. In the W.W. Jacobs story, the wish is for wealth, but it comes in the form of a payment for the violent death of a loved one.
The second wish is made to try to correct the damages of the first wish.
The third wish is made in despair when the darker implications of the "corrective" second wish become evident.
At the end, only the first wish stands, and the other two wishes are wasted, cancelling each other out to prevent a greater horror.
In another sense, such stories resemble Faust stories, in which there is no way to craft a wish finely enough to prevent the Devil from thwarting the wisher. However, in theory, there would be no way to corrupt a wish for happiness, since any ill side effects would make the wisher unhappy.
In popular media
--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monkey's_Paw [Dec 2005]
- A one act play based on the story was first performed in 1907.
- The story's theme was one of the inspirations for Stephen King's novel, Pet Sematary. The Jacobs story had previously been mentioned in his novel The Dead Zone and the novella, Apt Pupil.
- One of the stories from The Simpsons Halloween special, Treehouse of Horror II, has the same name, and is clearly a parody of this story.
- In many rewritings of this story, the final wish typically has the person in possession of the paw wishing he had never found the paw, usually because it was unavailable or that a person they dislike had found the paw instead.
- In the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, after the death of Buffy's mother due to a brain aneurysm, Dawn attempts to revive her with magic, the result being very similar to the ending of The Monkey's Paw.
- A new film will be released in 2007. The film involves a young woman who finds the Monkey's Paw. Feeling she is above the ill-fate of previous bearers, she makes selfish wishes until the paw strangles her.
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