Tension and Suspense in Monkey's Paw

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Tension and Suspense in Monkey's Paw

The writer is able to create tension and suspense through various

ways. In the opening sentence of the story we are given a brief

description of the surrounding area. In gothic stories, they are

usually set in a remote and isolated area, as in the ‘Monkey’s Paw’ it

is set in a remote village were there is only 2 houses inhabited.

‘Without, the night was cold and wet’ sets the scene of the story. A

gloomy background has been given to set the atmosphere. This weather

is similar to the feelings of the main characters. This technique used

is called pathetic fallacy, when the weather resembles a persons


From the beginning, we can see that there is unease between the White

family, and tension, that is demonstrated through the way Mr White

talks to his son. ‘Hark at the wind’, tells us that Mr White is very

impatient with his son and we can sense that he is almost intimidated

by his son. Both the setting and the characters are described in

negative terms, portraying the image that there is something strange

about the family. ‘Knowing glance between mother and son’ suggests

that Mr White is not as connected to the family as the mother and son.

Another way in which suspense and tension is created is through with

holding information. When Sergeant- Major Morris enters, we are not

given much information about why he is there or for what purpose. All

that we do know is that he is a friend of Mr White. The adjectives

used to describe the sergeant are also negative. ‘Beady of eye and

rubicund of visage’ both give an image of someone who seems drunk or

is on the edge. We get the feeling that he has drinking problem or is

very violent. This helps increase the level of tension as we have no

idea as to how this man will act.

Suspense is created when the sergeant is reluctant to tell the Whites

about what he has in his hand.
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