"The Monkey's Paw" is a horror short story by English author W. W. Jacobs. It first appeared in Harper's Monthly in 1902, and was reprinted in his third collection of short stories, The Lady of the Barge, later that year.[1] 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.[2]

"The Monkey's Paw"
Short story by W. W. Jacobs
Text available at Wikisource
Genre(s)Horror, short story
Publication dateSeptember 1902
The Lady of the Barge
Bill's Paper Chase

It has been adapted many times in other media, including plays, films, TV series, operas, stories and comics, as early as 1903.[3] 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.[4]


Illustration for "The Monkey's Paw" by Maurice Greiffenhagen, from Jacobs' short story collection The Lady of the Barge (1902)

Mr. and Mrs. White, and their grown son, Herbert, are visited by Sergeant-Major Morris, a friend who served with the British Army in India. During dinner, he introduces them to a mummified monkey's paw. He explains how an old fakir had 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, but the sceptical Mr. White 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 following day, Herbert leaves for work. 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 declares its intention to make a goodwill payment to the bereaved family. When the despairing couple asks what the sum will be, they are told "£200".

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. Later that night, 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 that the thing outside is not the son he loved. He makes his third and final wish. The knocking stops, and Mrs. White opens the door to find that no one is there.


Nina Quartero in a publicity still from the 1933 American film version

The story has been adapted into other media many times, including:

See also



  1. ^ Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide for W. W. Jacobs's "Monkey's Paw". Gale Research. p. 1. ISBN 0787616915.
  2. ^ "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.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ "The Eternal Grip of Creepshow's 'Night of the Paw' (S1E5)". 25YL. 24 October 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  4. ^ a b Workman, Christopher; Howarth, Troy (2016). Tome of Terror: Horror Films of the Silent Era. Midnight Marquee Press. p. 158. ISBN 978-1936168-68-2.
  5. ^ Jacobs, W. W.; Parker, Louis N. (1910). The Monkey's Paw: A Story in Three Scenes. London: Samuel French, Ltd. p. 5.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g 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.
  7. ^ a b c Alan Goble (1 January 1999). The Complete Index to Literary Sources in Film. Walter de Gruyter. p. 241. ISBN 978-3-11-095194-3.
  8. ^ Workman, Christopher; Howarth, Troy (2016). "Tome of Terror: Horror Films of the Silent Era". Midnight Marquee Press. p. 209. ISBN 978-1936168-68-2.
  9. ^ Jewell, Richard B.; Harbin, Vernon (1982). The RKO Story. New York: Arlington House. p. 57. ISBN 0-517-546566.
  10. ^ "Not lost !". NitrateVille.com. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  11. ^ Soister, John T. (2004). Up from the Vault: Rare thrillers of the 1920s and 1930s. McPharland. p. 133. ISBN 9780786481859.
  12. ^ "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Monkey's Paw - A Retelling (1965) - Robert Stevens - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related". AllMovie.
  13. ^ "Orson Welles Great Mysteries: Volume 1". Network.
  14. ^ Winter, Douglas E. (13 November 1983). "Pet Sematary By Stephen King (Doubleday. 373 pp. $15.95.)". The Washington Post. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  15. ^ "The Monkey's Paw (1988)". Archived from the original on 3 March 2017.
  16. ^ "BBC Radio 4 Extra - Christopher Lee's Fireside Tales, The Monkey's Paw". BBC.
  17. ^ Aiming high with Kagbeni. NepaliTimes (04 January 2008). Retrieved on 2020-12-20
  18. ^ Crimmins, Deirdre (21 June 2014). "THE MONKEY'S PAW plays its cards right". Film Thrills. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  19. ^ "Pacific Opera Project 2017-18 - The Monkey's Paw & The Medium: Double Bill Enchants & Sets Perfect Halloween Mood". OperaWire. 31 October 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2022.