Theme Of Existibility And Death In The Monkey's Paw

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William W. Jacobs displays his existentialist nature through themes of freedom, responsibility, and death. In “The Monkey’s Paw,” Jacobs demonstrates these themes progressively through his characters and their actions after a cursed talisman eradicates all limitations. Arash Farzaneh defines existentialism as the measurement of humankind’s “responsibility when facing a universe devoid of laws.” Fundamentally unbound by religious conviction, humankind is required to take responsibility for their actions accordingly if they are to be truly free (Farzaneh). Jacobs establishes through his character Mr. White that humanity must accept responsibility for their own choices, regardless of the consequences that may follow.
The role of fate in “The Monkey’s
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Though man is free, they tend to bind themselves to their own unique law of values and responsibility, and therefore, cannot be entirely unrestricted. Jacobs uses the paw to represent the unknown - demonstrating its control over human existence. The sense of freedom that the paw exerts is powerful, yet terrifying. Regardless of an individual’s intentions, he or she cannot always be aware of the possibilities available to him or her and the choices that he or she may have to make; therefore, man cannot be completely free due to their complete ignorance of the future. According to Hutchinson London, “Our experience and our knowledge are always incomplete and fragmentary” (1). Therefore, human …show more content…
The reality of death is the resulting factor behind existentialists initially questioning the purpose behind human life. Filiz Peach labels death as an unavoidable nothingness; therefore, individuals must come to terms with this inevitable demise in their own way or they will likely live in a constant state of fear or worthlessness. Mr. and Mrs. White both react to Herbert’s death in vastly different ways from one another. Though both parents are understandably distraught, Mrs. White appears considerably more so. Filiz Peach also reports, “…that when the death of the person one loved occurs life may become a lonely worldly existence for the one who stays behind” (Peach). The sense of grief experienced alongside death creates a feeling of sheer hopelessness. Mrs. White’s existence becomes one of desolation and misery after she learns of her only son’s demise. Until Mrs. White recalls the monkey’s paw, she remains aloof towards her husband; exerting no emotion other than heartache. Mrs. White experiences individual despair, which leads to the chaos, violence, and paranoia that will follow (Sartre). On the other hand, Mr. White does not fall into as deep of a depression as his wife does. At first, he is susceptible; Mrs. White easily sways him to use his second wish to bring back Herbert, despite going against his own personal values. Yet, after the banging on the door takes place, Mr. White

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