The Monkey's Paw and Aunty Misery: Main Similarities

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The Consequences of a Wish Come True

A comparison-contrast essay about “The Monkey’s Paw” and “Aunty Misery”

“If a man could have half of his wishes, he would double his troubles(Benjamin Franklin).” All people desire the opportunity to make their wishes come true. However, people are only focused on how to make their wishes come true that they often do not consider the consequences of that wish. This is why a lot of people find themselves facing even more troubles after their wishes get granted, like Benjamin Franklin said. Both “The Monkey’s Paw” and “Aunty Misery” are focused on the aftermath of an eagerly made wish. I will compare and contrast three literary elements these two short stories contain: parallel episodes, literary patterns, and lessons about life.

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First, “The Monkey’s Paw” and “Aunty Misery” contain similar parallel episodes related to the reception of guests. A parallel episode in “The Monkey’s Paw” is about mysterious visitors. Three visitors come to the Whites, each bringing worse news than the previous. The first visitor, Sergeant Major Morris, gives the Whites a monkey’s paw, the origin of all of their troubles. The second is a gentleman from Maw and Meggins, the company where the Whites’ son, Herbert, used to work. The second visitor brings news about Herbert White’s death. The third guest is the living corpse of Herbert himself, who had come back from the dead. “Aunty Misery” also includes a parallel episode about strange guests. Aunty Misery is visited by two guests. The first guest is a sorcerer in disguise, who grants Aunty Misery’s wish “that anyone who climbs up [her] pear tree should not be able to come back down until [she] permits it(Aunty Misery, p 104).” The second is Death, who has come to take Aunty Misery to the afterlife. Aunty Misery repeats the gesture of scanning the faces of her visitors before she lets them in her house, to determine if the visitors are trustworthy or not. To sum up, “The Monkey’s Paw” and “Aunty Misery” have similar parallel episodes about peculiar visitors.

Second, the two stories contain different literary patterns. One of the literary patterns in “The Monkey’s Paw” involves the number three. The White family, which consists of three members, is visited by three guests, and is given the opportunity to make three wishes. The monkey’s paw enabled three different people to be granted three wishes. An employee of Maw and Meggins hesitates three times before making up his mind to enter and break his dreadful news to the Whites. The number three is a recurring theme in “The Monkey’s Paw”. Another literary pattern in “The Monkey’s Paw” is the repetitive use of foreshadowing. Sergeant Morris’s words foreshadow the evil hidden behind the monkey’s paw.

“It has caused enough mischief already(The Monkey’s Paw, p 94).”

“If you keep it, don’t blame me for what happens. Pitch it on the fire again, like a sensible man(The Monkey’s Paw, p 94).”

The actions of the stranger from Maw and Meggins also foreshadow the horrible news he is about to break to the Whites.

“Three times [the stranger] paused at the gate, and then walked on again(The Monkey’s Paw, p 96).”

“She brought the stranger, who seemed ill at ease, into the room. He gazed furtively at Mrs. White, and listened in a preoccupied fashion…(The Monkey’s Paw, p 97)”

On the other hand, “Aunty Misery” contains a literary pattern about Aunty Misery’s recurrent actions. Aunty Misery uses her granted wish that nobody can come down from her pear tree before she allows it to get rid of unwelcome people. Aunty Misery deploys her wish in chasing away the neighborhood children, who used to torment her by stealing the fruit from her pear tree. She also uses it to trap Death in her pear tree, who had come to take her away. In short, “The Monkey’s Paw” and “Aunty Misery” have different recurring themes or actions.

Third, both “The Monkey’s Paw and “Aunty Misery” convey the moral that fate should not be changed, for it brings only horrible consequences with it. The life lesson that “The Monkey’s Paw” conveys is that destiny should not be interfered with. In the story, the Whites are given the opportunity to have three wishes granted. Each of the wishes result in horrible consequences; the first results in the death of Herbert White, the Whites’ only son, the second leads to Herbert’s corpse rising from the dead, and the third barely prevents his mutilated body from entering the house. All of these events originate from the monkey’s paw. An old fakir had put a spell on it “to show that fate ruled people’s lives, and those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow(The Monkey’s Paw, p 93).” Similarly, the moral of “Aunty Misery” is trying to alter one’s fate will bring negative impacts. When Aunty Misery trapped Death in her pear tree, the world fell into chaos due to the absence of death.

“The doctors claimed no one bothered to come in for examinations or treatments anymore…the pharmacists business suffered too…priests and undertakers were unhappy with the situation…many old folks tired of life…(Aunty Misery, p 104)”

Being blamed for these troubles, Aunty Misery made a bargain with Death: in return for letting Death go, she would be guaranteed eternal life. This bargain also led to consequences. The eternal existence of misery brought people a great deal of pain and suffering. Therefore, both stories convey how destiny cannot be changed, and that attempts to alter one’s fate will only lead to consequences.

In this essay, I have analyzed the similarities and differences of the parallel episodes, literary patterns, and life lessons that show up in the short story “The Monkey’s Paw” and the folk tale “Aunty Misery”. Both stories contain various similarities and differences. However, the primary similarity between the two essays is the theme about the consequences of a wish come true. Due to the granting of wishes, the Whites’ comfortable, happy life was ruined whereas misery and suffering became eternal. With the morals of the two stories in mind, I would like to advise everyone to think carefully about what they wish for: they just might get it.

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