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Evaluate How Effectively the Author Creates a Horror Story in 'the Monkey's Paw'


Submitted By puds
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Throughout the tale of The Monkey’s Paw, the weather, similar sinister contrasts in atmosphere, death and fore-shadowing in the re-incarnation of another, are constantly intertwined to provide the perfect detail in aspect of tension and horror surrounding ‘The Monkey’s Paw.’
The use of such outlooks creates an in-sight into the life of the White family without necessarily stating the obvious, allowing us to understand their undulating journey through mystery and misery combined.

Weather and overall environment play a huge role in this somewhat staged life belonging to the White family. As soon as you commence scrutinizing the first page, without having even to deduce the sly connotations imprinted, the weather springs out in your mind to set the ideal scene: darkness, dreariness and death.
From the very first to the very last, contrast is used to constantly unsettle your mind, most specifically in the turbulent weathering systems:
“Without, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Laburnum Villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly.”
The striking definition and distinction betwixt both internal and external night ‘life’ is most certainly one of eeriness.
The hostility of a stormy night that is almost automatically referenced to the damp and bitterness of the evening creates an apprehension of misfortune and death; the era in which the novel was written was also one of suspicion and most likely would have regarded such a night to be as arid yet ethereal as ever.
One can unconsciously relate this to many a day suppressed by the dull and drizzly storm clouds gathering overhead, squandering your enthusiasm and hopes in plans for the hours ahead. The same gloom betides as you sit and read in the utmost bitterness, for the atrocious winds and hardly extravagant game of chess sums the dusk.
Then, only to contrast with this, the blinds were left ajar to allow the uncanny eve a slim preview into the White family. One involuntarily associates this prospect with the entire idea of a ‘façade,’ to which the White family play surrender. For it is almost made to seem as though the supernatural was permanently glimpsing in at them through such manner, and this further adds to the idea humanity is constantly yet unknowingly under the inspection of the paranormal. This aspect is essential in any horror novel-the unknown is our greatest fear after all.
Finally, the panorama of a vivid smouldering fire amidst what should be a conspicuous smouldering night only heightens the paranoia and the paranormal.
The contrast is such an immense one, that an ominous embodiment is portrayed, as the life (nourished by the flickering flames,) in the hearth and the deathly silence without is marred by the whistling high winds.
You are almost forced to let your mind wander within the first few lines of the tale, and allow yourself to pose, are the numinous really in the wind? Were they trying to attempt to forewarn the naïve humans what was in store, or where they simply taunting and teasing, only used to foreshadow what was to come?
The screeching winds opposing the blinds also contrasts with a stillness that descends upon the Whites, again posing unnerving thoughts-maybe the whistles of the wind and the precarious lashing of the tree’s are more alive than the White family? Does this suggest that the balance between the living and the supernatural is constantly swaying?
After having bid his elderly parents good night, Herbert is left alone in the parlour steeped in its suppressing silence. The dusk was made only more chilling against the last flickers encroaching from the remnants of the fire, spitting unearthly faces to penetrate the palpable apprehension. It is made obvious that the means of fire is being used in some sort of correlation with the deceased, for Hebert is only experiencing his first ‘known’ encounter with the supernatural.
But at this point you withdraw and scan the text one more, for another defying aspect to the tale is the uncertainty in the occult. Is the reality ripped apart for the Whites by the magic, or is it in the sorcery? It may just be that Herbert, being the young lad he was, had simply managed to convince himself of the maligned history belonging to that of the Monkey’s paw, and so such spirits were only due to a psychological phenomenon. After all, Hebert manages to convince himself of this too, by disregarding his encounter the next morning.
Dawn, and the wintry sun is said to be ‘bright and streaming.’ Understandably it so often is during the season, however, the use of this adjective makes it seem like it being used as in denial, as though Herbert is only tying to play his part in the façade, and persuade himself to believe in the air of prosaic wholesomeness about the family.
Perhaps one may even go as far to say that this only foreshadows the events that follow in Herbert’s fate, for the abnormal and outlandish weather patterns elicit a peculiar optimism in him.

Overall, the Monkey’s Paw may not be the most perplexing novel, but does integrate the very simple and basic elements for a horror story.
Its use in peculiar conditions without causes an entire range of questions to arise, and more-over the fore-shadowing of events causes the reader to fall into the words and depth of the story.
The ‘Monkey’s Paw’ differs from modern day horror stories, as they have had time to develop the supernatural content, and one is able to understand the psychology of a human to a much larger extent. This enables a writer to have a greater understanding towards what really causes profound trepidation in oneself.
There is also much less suspicion in current day, which un-fortunately most likely extracts from a greater belief in the black magic.

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