The Monkey's Paw
|"The Monkey's Paw"|
|Author||W. W. Jacobs|
|Genre(s)||Horror, short story|
|Publication date||September 1902|
"The Monkey's Paw" is a horror short story by author W. W. Jacobs, first published in England in the collection The Lady of the Barge in 1902. In the story, three wishes are granted to the owner of The Monkey's Paw, but the wishes come with an enormous price for interfering with fate.
It has been adapted many times in other media, including plays, films, TV series, operas, stories and comics, as early as 1903 and as recently as 2019. It was first adapted to film in 1915 as a British silent film directed by Sidney Northcote. The film (now lost) starred John Lawson, who also played the main character in Louis N. Parker's 1907 stage play.
The short story involves Mr. and Mrs. White and their adult son, Herbert. Sergeant-Major Morris, a friend who served with the British Army in India, comes by for dinner and introduces them to a mummified monkey's paw. An old fakir placed a spell on the paw, so that it would grant three wishes but only with hellish consequences as punishment for tampering with fate. Morris, having had a horrible experience using the paw, throws it into the fire. Mr. White, not believing Morris, retrieves it. Before leaving, Morris warns Mr. White of what might happen should he use the paw.
Mr. White hesitates at first, believing that he already has everything he wants. At Herbert's suggestion, Mr. White flippantly wishes for £200, which will enable him to make the final mortgage payment for his house. When he makes his wish, Mr. White suddenly drops the paw in surprise, claiming that it moved and twisted like a snake. The next day, Herbert leaves for work at a local factory. That night, an employee arrives at the Whites' home, telling them that Herbert had been killed in a terrible machine accident that mutilated his body. The company denies any responsibility for the incident, but makes a goodwill payment to the family of the deceased. The payment is £200, the amount Mr. White had wished for.
A week after the funeral, Mrs. White, mad with grief, insists that her husband use the paw to wish Herbert back to life. Reluctantly, he does so, despite great unease at the thought of summoning his son's mutilated and decomposing body. An hour or so later—the cemetery being two miles away—there is a knock at the door. As Mrs. White fumbles at the locks in a desperate attempt to open the door, Mr. White becomes terrified and fears "the thing outside" is not the son he loved. He makes his third wish. The knocking stops suddenly and Mrs. White opens the door to find no one is there.
Notable versions in other media
The story has been adapted into other media many times, including:
- On 6 October 1903, a one-act play opened at London's Haymarket Theatre, starring Cyril Maude as Mr. White and Lena Ashwell as Mrs. White.
- A 1907 stage adaptation by Louis N. Parker starred John Lawson.
- A 1915 film version was directed by Sidney Northcote and starred John Lawson (who was in the 1907 stage play).
- A 1919 British silent film (director unknown) is known to have been made, but is now considered lost.
- The Monkey's Paw (1923 film), was directed by Manning Haynes, and starred Moore Marriott, Marie Ault, and Charles Ashton.
- A 17 July 1928 UK radio adaptation was based on the 1910 play.
- The Monkey's Paw (1933 film), with the screenplay by Graham John, and directed by Wesley Ruggles (his last film with RKO), starred C. Aubrey Smith, Ivan Simpson, and Louise Carter. The film was considered lost until pictures from it were posted online in 2016.
- A 28 May 1946 episode of the BBC Radio series Appointment with Fear.
- The Monkey's Paw (1948 film), screenplay by Norman Lee and Barbara Toy.
- A 16 December 1958 episode of the UK radio series Thirty-Minute Theatre, starring Carleton Hobbs and Gladys Young.
- A 1961 film version called Espiritismo (released as Spiritism in the US), directed by Benito Alazraki and starring Nora Veyran, Jose Luis Jiminez, and Jorge Mondragon.
- "The Monkey's Paw – A Retelling", aired on TV on 19 April 1965 in season 3, episode 26 of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, starring Leif Erickson, Jane Wyatt, and Lee Majors.
- An episode of the 1970's British television series Orson Welles Great Mysteries.
- An 11 July 1980 episode of the CBC Radio series Nightfall.
- A 17 January 1988 BBC Radio adaptation by Patrick Galvin, presented as part of Fear on Four. It was rebroadcast individually as a Halloween special on 31 October 1993.
- A half-hour televised special broadcast on Channel 4 in 1988, directed by Andrew Barker and starring Alex McAvoy and Patricia Leslie.
- A 1993 episode named Taveez of the Indian television series The Zee Horror Show.
- A 2004 adaptation as a radio play narrated by Christopher Lee in 2004 as part of the BBC radio drama series Christopher Lee's Fireside Tales.
Variations and parodies
A great number of novels, stories, movies, plays and comics are variations or adaptations of the story, featuring similar plots built around wishes that go awry in macabre ways, occasionally with references to monkeys' paws or to the story itself.
The story is frequently parodied on television shows and in comic books.
- "The Monkey's Paw - story by Jacobs". Encyclopaedia Britannica.
- "David Mitchell on The Monkey's Paw by WW Jacobs – short story podcast". The Guardian. Presented by Claire Armitstead, Story read by Ben Hicks, Produced by Susannah Tresilian. 5 January 2018.CS1 maint: others (link)
- "The Eternal Grip of Creepshow's 'Night of the Paw' (S1E5)". 25YL. 24 October 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
- Workman, Christopher; Howarth, Troy (2016). "Tome of Terror: Horror Films of the Silent Era". Midnight Marquee Press. p. 158. ISBN 978-1936168-68-2.
- Jacobs, W. W.; Parker, Louis N. (1910). The Monkey's Paw: A Story in Three Scenes. London: Samuel French, Ltd. p. 5.
- Richard J. Hand (5 June 2014). Listen in Terror: British Horror Radio from the Advent of Broadcasting to the Digital Age. Oxford University Press. pp. 35–36. ISBN 978-0-7190-8148-4.
- Alan Goble (1 January 1999). The Complete Index to Literary Sources in Film. Walter de Gruyter. p. 241. ISBN 978-3-11-095194-3.
- Workman, Christopher; Howarth, Troy (2016). "Tome of Terror: Horror Films of the Silent Era". Midnight Marquee Press. p. 209. ISBN 978-1936168-68-2.
- Jewell, Richard B.; Harbin, Vernon (1982). The RKO Story. New York: Arlington House. p. 57. ISBN 0-517-546566.
- "Not lost !". NitrateVille.com. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
- Soister, John T. (2004). Up from the Vault: Rare thrillers of the 1920s and 1930s. McPharland. p. 133. ISBN 9780786481859.
- "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Monkey's Paw - A Retelling (1965) - Robert Stevens - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related". AllMovie.
- "Orson Welles Great Mysteries: Volume 1". Network.
- "BBC Radio 4 Extra - Christopher Lee's Fireside Tales, The Monkey's Paw". BBC.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Monkey's Paw.|
- W. W. Jacobs. The Monkey's Paw at Project Gutenberg
- The Monkey's Paw public domain audiobook at LibriVox
- "The Monkey's Paw"; Full Short Story Text
- Gaslight edition of the story
- Monkey's Paw Radio Play
- Podcast of "The Monkey's Paw" as read by John Lithgow