The Monkey’s Paw: the Light Footprint of British History

The Monkey’s Paw: The Light Footprint of British History by M. Lutfi / 1104391 Written in 1906, “The Monkey’s Paw” is a story about Whites’ family who received a dried “monkey’s paw”, dubbed as a magical item which will grant their three wishes, from one of their friend, Sergeant-Major Morris. Taking it as a joke, they wished for two hundred pounds, which they later get in the expense of the death of their son, Herbert. Hopeless, they then wished for their son to come back into life, only to realize that those wish won’t become true.
This story is particularly interesting because the author chose to portray the life of an average English family life, and how they deal with issues such as death of a family member, while still talking about the larger issues in the Victorian age, such as Industrial Revolution, the belief to the spiritual or mythical deity, and cultural issues related to the imperialism. In the start of this story, the reader is presented with the visit of Sergeant-Major Morris to the Whites’ family villa, with a “souvenir” which happened to be a “magic” monkey’s paw from India.
After this scene, readers can infer that there’s a cultural exchange from the colonized country (as India is one of the country that was colonized by England). The “magic” monkey paw might be a souvenir or a charm given by locals – at that age, giving a charm to people going overseas was considered to be a symbol of tribute. By accepting the paw, Sergeant-Major Morris successfully brought a piece of Indian culture relic to the UK, and it also could be read as the writer’s attempt to say that behind the colonialism, there’s some hope of peace and understanding left.

Then the story moves forward to the act in which they doubted the effect of the charm. The act could be read as an attempt to introduce how people tend to question the spiritual belief system. In the age where new ideas, founding in science, and innovations were praised a lot, people started to question everything – how things work, how the earth functions, and so on. Peoples tend to believe things when they see the “proof”, especially when the social situation also pledged uncertainty. After they wished to the monkey’s paw, they had their wish come true, but in the expense of their son passed away.
If the readers read critically to the story, they can find two issues being addressed here by the writer; how one’s life revolves, and another bigger issue: the darker side of Industrial Revolution. From the aforementioned scene, the writer hides the message about how one’s life revolve; we gain one thing in our life, then we also lose another. You can’t be greedy and wish for everything in this life to be picture-perfect; it’s a given. This way, the writer addressed, and criticized, eloquently the greediness of imperialists. Another thing to note from this scene is that the Industrial Revolution is not all that friendly to the humanity.
The movement, which starts in the middle of 19th century and ends before World War, is a movement which focused to change the manufacturing process from manual to automatic, using machines to achieve such goal. However, it caused significant damage to the society and labor issues is not an exception. Lots of people became victim; either became dead, lost their job, or got below-average wages. In this story, the cruelness of Industrial Revolution is depicted subtly, but it did leave an impression to the readers. The story reached its end by the couple wishing their son come back into life to the monkey’s paw, but their wish was unfulfilled.
In this scene, it can be concurred that the writer’s trying to remind people to remain rational when times went rough – doing irrational things won’t help the situation at all, as depicted in this scene. “The Monkey’s Paw” is a good read for those interested in the British history. The story flows nicely, the character was depicted vividly, and the diction is not too hard to understand. The issues discussed here are also explained in a way that won’t make anyone frown, even though the story talks about one of the darkest part of the world history.

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New York University

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