"The Monkey's Paw": Short Story Vs Movie Analysis

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About this sample


Words: 1622 |

Pages: 3|

9 min read

Published: May 19, 2020

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Words: 1622|Pages: 3|9 min read

Published: May 19, 2020

“The Monkey’s Paw”: Short Story Vs Movie Analysis
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The essay analyzes the differences and similarities between W. W. Jacobs' short story "The Monkey's Paw" and Ricky Lewis Jr.'s interpretive film adaptation, "The Monkey's Paw." It highlights various aspects of the two interpretations, including imagery, character development, and plot events.

One significant difference discussed is the imagery and foreshadowing used in the film compared to the original story. The film employs a more ominous and foreboding atmosphere right from the beginning, with green fog and a sense of impending darkness. In contrast, the short story begins with a more open and neutral tone, gradually building suspense. The change in imagery affects the reader's perception of the story's mood.

Character development is another area of distinction, particularly in the portrayal of Sergeant Major Morris. The film presents him as more humorous and friendly, while the short story leaves more room for doubt and suspicion about his character. These differences in character development contribute to the overall tone of the story.

Despite these differences, the essay also highlights similarities, such as the use of irony in the death of Mr. and Mrs. White's son, Herbert. Both the short story and the film employ irony to create tension, suspense, and even humor, affecting the mood of the narrative.

Table of contents

  1. The Monkey’s Paw: short story vs movie analysis
  2. Differences between the story and the film
  3. Imagery
    Character development
  4. Similarities between the story and the film
  5. Conclusion
  6. Works Cited

The Monkey’s Paw: short story vs movie analysis

Upon reading the short story “The Monkey’s Paw” written by W. W. Jacobs and the interpretive film The Monkey’s Paw by Ricky Lewis Jr. , it is possible to determine a similar reflection of plot events and a common setting. This connection is also seen in the way both adaptations make the reader feel and the mood perceived in the reader or observers mind. However, there are many distinctions in each aspect of the two interpretations. The differences you can find include the changes in the character’s actions, as well as a prominent change in imagery throughout the interpretative movie and original text. These similarities and differences between “The Monkey’s Paw” and The Monkey’s Paw show how two authors or creators can illustrate a varying mood, change imagery, or show a difference in the characters although based from the same idea.

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Differences between the story and the film


Beginning with the differences found in the imagery and foreshadowing, there is automatically an uncommon trait. Within the first few moments of the interpretive movie The Monkey’s Paw, there is a change of imagery compared to that in the beginning of “The Monkey’s Paw”.

The Monkey’s Paw sends the message of being careful what you wish for. The popular story is about an elderly couple in ownership of a monkey’s paw that grants three wishes. The man wishes for a lot of money and receives the money only after his son was killed by machinery at his place of work. The wife tells her husband to wish the son back to life, and later that night knocking comes to the door. The man wishes his son dead again because he is horrified that the mutilated body of his son who has been dead for several days might be back to life and at their door.

When Jacobs writes, “Without, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Laburnum Villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly” (Jacobs 15), he is beginning the story with a very open tone. Jacobs allows the following events to set up a more cheerful mood. Allowing the first take at the story to be rather vague, the reader can easily become more shocked as the story progresses due to the weakened foreshadowing. The imagery used does not present a very frightening mood for the reader, but a more neutral one that they can tell will be influenced soon in the story. Adding to the light-hearted mood in the reader’s mind, the contrasting details of the dark and rainy night to the bright fire neutralize the common negativity associated with the harsh night and further influences the reader’s idea in the opening of the story. There is nothing yet in reader’s mind that tells them the story will contain more harsh and negative tones. On the contrary, The Monkey’s Paw begins in a very different way. The first scenes in the short film show the old fakir putting a spell on the paw. The green fog encompassing the room where the old Fakir is creates a heavy amount of foreshadowing as to how the story will develop. Beginning the movie in this way automatically leads the observer’s mind down a path led by an ominous view.

The reader is left little optimism towards the storyline and is set up for a more mysterious and frightening story, whereas in the begging of “The Monkey’s Paw” there is an abundance of optimism provided. These varying types of imagery have a large effect on the mood perceived by the reader. Although the themes originate from the same idea, the short story creates a greater sense of optimism towards the mood of the story, whereas the short film begins with a more set and ominous mood. The director of The Monkey’s Paw chose to include this trait in order to prepare the reader’s mind. It is necessary for the reader’s thoughts to be set up in a certain expectation in order to perceive the author’s intended feeling as they progress through the story. This change in imagery well illustrates that two creators can use small details to fully change the entire opening of the story, as well as the domino effect this change has on the reader’s expectation in the mood while progressing through the story. Continuing into the two interpretations, there is another large gap between the two takes of the same idea.

Character development

This gap is found in the character development of Sergeant Major Morris. When Lewis directs Sergeant Major Morris to say “Don’t worry, I am not in uniform”, he has created a sense of humor identified with the sergeant. The beginning dark tone is lightened upon his arrival, changing the reader’s feelings towards him. However, when Jacobs writes, “The Sergeant-Major took hands and taking the proffered seat by the fire, watched contentedly as his host got out whiskey and tumblers and stood a small copper kettle on the fire” (Jacobs 16), he provides a different outlook to this character. There was a much more significant amount of development put into Morris’ arrival in The Monkey’s Paw compared to “The Monkey’s Paw”. In “The Monkey’s Paw”, he is automatically presumed less friendly as less detail was put into his arrival. There was also less change in the mood and tone when he arrived. Upon the sergeant’s arrival in the movie, the mood was automatically lifted. Although seeming to not matter much, the development put into his character adds an abundant amount of suspense and shock in the following plot events throughout both interpretations. Since there are more positive connections with the sergeant in The Monkey’s Paw, the director’s switch from lightheartedness to suspense is much more dramatic than that of ‘The Monkey’s Paw. That change is a major shock to the observer and adds a lot of emotion to the overall feeling of the presented storyline.

Since there was already more negative connections to the sergeant in “The Monkey’s Paw”, there was less of a shock provided when the reader learned about the negative connotation linked with him and the paw. This is due to the foreshadowing Jacobs provided. This shock value is a major turning point in both stories. It completely changes the tone and mood of the story and sets up what more is to come. Without the development or inclusion of sergeant major Morris and the vagueness of his replies to the questions relative to the paw, the storyline of these two interpretations could be very different. These differences in the two creators works, also illustrate how different the effect that changing small details can have. The two creators wanted different emotional connections put with the sergeant. Jacobs provided more of an automatic doubtful tone into this man by using less friendly details upon his arrival whereas Lewis provokes a friendly attitude into his interpretation of Sergeant Major Morris. To continue, there are many similarities and differences in the plot events leading to the resolution of the story.

Similarities between the story and the film

One of these similarities includes the amount of irony associated with the death of Mr. and Mrs. White’s son, Herbert. This is very similar to a portion of Jacob’s story when he writes “. . . in consideration of your son’s services they wish to present you with a certain sum as compensation. . . two hundred pounds” (Jacobs 19). These two similar details in the separate works are important to the connection between them. Without Herbert’s death and the irony developed from the specific amount of money they are given for compensation, the plotline of the two works would be very different. Earlier in the story, Jacobs writes “And if they could, how could two hundred pounds hurt you” (Jacobs 17). When Herbert jokes about Mr. White being hurt from the 200 pounds, there is little thought put into it. A very similar line is found in The Monkey’s Paw when Herbert says “—“. However, after the family is compensated that exact amount, the irony within the situation is revealed. This revelation is seen in both The Monkey’s Paw and “The Monkey’s Paw”. The creators of the short story and short film both used this form of irony to show the effects of the paw.

These effects extend even farther and into the mood of the story. The use of irony creates more tension and suspense, as well as a slight sense of humor. All of these building feelings create an effect on the reader, directly influencing the mood. This example of Herbert’s ironic death perfectly illustrates how the two creators used a similar detail to create a similar piece to their story. Both of these creators provided a similar mood in this portion of the works and supported the necessary roll in the stories plot events.

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To conclude, there are many ways that two different creators can edit an idea and create a form of media that is both similar and different to another. By varying the mood, changing the imagery, and developing the various amount of connections to the characters, a story can be influenced massively. The small details that the author or director changed in the case of The Monkey’s Paw and ‘The Monkey’s Paw” had large effects on the overall view of a story. The mood was very commonly affected by the changes made by the creators and this variance provided a different experience for each person watching or reading the works. All in all, the small choices of a director or author can have a large effect on the story told and the type of mood it can set in the reader’s mind, even though the main theme is shared between them.

Works Cited

  1. Jacobs, W. W. (2019). The Monkey’s Paw. Good Press.
  2. Lewis Jr, R. (2013). The Monkey's Paw [Motion Picture]. United States: Glass Eye Pix.
  3. Lindberg, G. (2017). Teaching “The Monkey’s Paw”: Comparing and Contrasting Short Story and Film Adaptations. The ALAN Review, 44(3), 58-66.
  4. Lloyd-Smith, A. (2006). The monkey's paw: cultural value and popular culture. English in Australia, (147), 57.
  5. McKenna, C. (2004). Short story: 'The monkey's paw' by W. W. Jacobs. Junior English Review, 5(1), 29-31.
  6. Nijhuis, M. (2011). The monkey's paw and other tales of mystery and the macabre. Oxford University Press.
  7. Peebles, J. (2017). From The Monkey's Paw to the Monkey-Man: The Cultural Evolution of the Supernatural Primate. Western Folklore, 76(4), 395-413.
  8. Riffaterre, M. (1978). Syllepses of Meaning in W. W. Jacobs's "The Monkey's Paw". Modern Language Notes, 93(1), 44-53.
  9. Thompson, T. (2016). Adaptation and intertextual relations: The Monkey's Paw, the pearl of great price, and the art of storytelling. Journal of Adaptation in Film & Performance, 9(1), 21-38.
  10. Timmerman, J. H. (2008). The monkey's paw: cultural history and Gothic reading. The Journal of Popular Culture, 41(3), 403-419.
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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“The Monkey’s Paw”: Short Story Vs Movie Analysis. (2022, April 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 28, 2024, from
““The Monkey’s Paw”: Short Story Vs Movie Analysis.” GradesFixer, 01 Apr. 2022,
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