Tension and Suspense in Monkey's Paw

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
feeling.

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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‘Leastways nothing worth hearing’,
creates tension as the reader is keen to know the secret about the
Monkey’s Paw. Once the sergeant is persuaded into talking about the
paw he does not rush into it. He gives out information about the paw
and its power very gradually. This creates suspense as we want to know
everything about the paw and yet the sergeant is only giving small
pieces of the puzzle.

‘I don’t know what the first two were, but the third was for death’,
from this quote we can see how the author manages to create tension as
we know that eventually people will die due to the wishes that they
have made.

In many gothic stories there is always conflict between the
superstition and scepticism which helps create tension as the reader
is more likely to believe what the superstitious person has to say, as
we know that in the end, the sceptical people will be punished for not
believing the story.

To create tension the author sets out the story into section of
tension points. This is effective as it means that there are peak and
valleys in tension throughout the story, which is effective as it
gives the reader time to relax before the next major tension point.
The first section of tension is when Mr White makes his first wish for
two hundred pounds. As we are distracted for a while by the piano
playing, the talisman moves in the old mans hand. The tension is
released, as the family jokes about how the money will be tied up in a
bag in the middle of the bed. But once the son and mother leave, the
tension rises again as now one of the characters is left alone, with
the paw.

The final climax of the story happens at the end, when Mr White wishes
his son alive again. There is conflict between the two characters
which add to the suspense and tension when there is a knock at the
door. Mr White does not want to let his son in, while Mrs White wants
to open the door. As Mrs White struggles with the latch, the last wish
is made by the old man, but we do not hear what the actual wish is.

‘The knocking ceased suddenly, although the echoes of it were still in
the house’, is the point where the tension is at its peak, and the
door is open by Mrs White. This tension is then released by a ‘loud
wail of disappointment’ which tells us that the final wish had come
true.
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