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How is tension created and sustained in "The Monkey's Paw"

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Introduction

How is tension created and sustained in "The Monkey's Paw" The Monkey's Paw is a short, horror story written by WW Jacobs. It was written and set in the 19th century in a time where there was almost an obsession with the gothic, Victoria genre. Jacobs uses a range of techniques which create and add tension of the audience. The setting, structure, genre, characters, language and atmosphere all contribute to the ascending build up of tension throughout the story. The setting of the story is typical of the time in which it was set. There are many clues given by the author, which help us to distinguish the time period in which the play was set. Items such as 'the china candlestick' and 'the fire' would not be used commonly today because of the introduction of electrical heaters etc. Furthermore, when Mr white says: "A rat. It passed me on the stairs", we find it difficult to comprehend this. This is because we would find a rat scuttling around in our houses today extremely peculiar and probably unbelievable whereas Mr and Mrs White do not seem to make much of a fuss about it because it may have been normal in that time. ...read more.

Middle

Sergeant-Major Morris is an extremely mysterious character. We seem to imagine him as a gigantic, mean, imposing, muscular man when hearing of his arrival because of the "heavy footsteps", which he makes as described so by the author. His arrival is somewhat sprung on use and we do not get to know much about him until he starts conversing with the Mr White and family about the paw. Therefore he is almost like an unknown character to us. Once Mr White mentions the Monkey's Paw, he seems eager to change the subject: "Nothing' said the soldier hastily". This tells us that he was not keen to disclose information about the Monkey's Paw and was clearly hiding some details at the beginning. Once he realises the others are interested in the paw, he tries to play down its powers: "it's just an ordinary little paw dried to a little mummy". The reason for him acting this way is not clear to us at first but later on we get to know that the reason for this is because he has bad experiences with it. We know this because of his reaction when being asked is he had used his three wishes, "his blotchy face whitened". ...read more.

Conclusion

The sentences are short in order to delay the point of climax, so that the audience find the ending of a better quality. There are also short bursts of action at this point in the story to get the reader excited about what will happen, "and frantically breathed his third and last wish". This is probably the part of the play where the tension is at its highest because the audience are holding their breath as to what it going to happen. The adverbs used by the author help to create this tension because words such as 'frantically', 'hoarsely' and 'appealingly' give us an insight to the actual feelings of the characters. This helps us because then we can relate to the characters. In conclusion, I can say that in the monkey's paw the author uses a variety of methods to create tension. These include characters, setting, structure, language and style. Overall, I would say that Sergeant-Major Morris is the person who contributes to providing the most amount of tension in the play. His mysteriousness and whole demeanour just makes the audience think that something bad is going to happen in the play because of him. I also think that the climax used by WW Jacobs was a very clever way to build up a lot of tension. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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