The Monkey’s Paw

by

W. W. Jacobs

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Mrs. White Character Analysis

Mrs. White is the wife of Mr. White and the mother of Herbert. She represents the happy domesticity present inside the house at the beginning of the story, as she knits by the cozy fire, soothes her husband’s temper, and enjoys spending time with her son. The appearance of the monkey’s paw disrupts this domesticity, because although Mrs. White teases Mr. White for giving credence to the paw, she also anxiously awaits the arrival of any visitor that might bring the wished-for money. However, the stranger who does bring the money also brings the news that her son is dead, thus shattering her once happy home life. Herbert’s death leaves Mrs. White feeling apathetic and surrounded by her grief. She is emotionally separated from her husband, as after the death of their son they speak little to each other. Her grief makes her frantic and argumentative, and she then comes to believe that she can bring her son back to life using the monkey’s paw. At the end of the story she experiences tragedy once again, as she opens the front door, expecting to see her son come back from the dead, and instead sees nothing. One could interpret her disappointment and misery at the end of the story either as a consequence of her attempts to alter fate by wishing on the paw or as a consequence of her belief that she could change fate, rather than accepting the loss of her son.

Mrs. White Quotes in The Monkey’s Paw

The The Monkey’s Paw quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. White or refer to Mrs. White. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Academy Chicago Publishers edition of The Monkey’s Paw published in 1997.
Part III Quotes

But the days passed, and expectation gave place to resignation–the hopeless resignation of the old, sometimes miscalled, apathy. Sometimes they hardly exchanged a word.

Related Characters: Mr. White, Mrs. White
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

“He has been dead ten days, and besides he–I would not tell you else, but–I could only recognize him by his clothing. If he was too terrible for you to see then, how now?”

Related Characters: Mr. White (speaker), Mrs. White, Herbert White
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

But her husband was on his hands and knees groping wildly on the floor in search of the paw. If he could only find it before the thing outside got in.

Related Characters: Mr. White, Mrs. White
Related Symbols: The Monkey’s Paw
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

A cold wind rushed up the staircase, and a long loud wail of disappointment and misery from his wife gave him courage to run down to her side…The street lamp flickering opposite shone on a quiet and deserted road.

Related Characters: Mr. White, Mrs. White
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mrs. White Character Timeline in The Monkey’s Paw

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. White appears in The Monkey’s Paw. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part I
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
...chess. Mr. White makes a daring move with his king, so unnecessary and dangerous that Mrs. White , who is knitting by the fire, comments on it. (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
...places” like they do is how muddy and dangerous the roads become when it rains. Mrs. White tells him that he might win the next game, and she and Herbert share a... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
...about a monkey’s paw the other day, but Morris says that it’s “nothing worth hearing.” Mrs. White asks about it and Morris reveals that “it’s just a bit of what you might... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
...to pay off the mortgage on their home, two hundred pounds. Herbert then winks at Mrs. White and sits down to play the piano. Mr. White wishes upon the monkey’s paw for... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
...snake.” Herbert remarks that he doesn’t see any money and “I bet I never shall.” Mrs. White says that the movement must have just been Mr. White’s imagination. The family sits down... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
After Mr. and Mrs. White go to bed, Herbert stays up, watching the fire. He sees faces in the flames,... (full context)
Part II
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
...has been set aside “with a carelessness which betokened no great belief in its virtues.” Mrs. White remarks at the silliness of Morris’s tale of magic, and besides, she says, “how could... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
Mrs. White laughs along with her son, but throughout the day, she finds herself scurrying to the... (full context)
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
Industrialization Theme Icon
...He says he is a representative of the owners of the factory where Herbert works. Mrs. White immediately becomes worried, asking if Herbert is hurt. The representative says, “Badly hurt…but he is... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Industrialization Theme Icon
...a feeling of horror, Mr. White asks how much. The representative answers, “Two hundred pounds.” Mrs. White screams and Mr. White faints. (full context)
Part III
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
Industrialization Theme Icon
“In the huge new cemetery, some two miles distant,” Mr. and Mrs. White bury Herbert. They return to their house, which is now dark and quiet. At first,... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
A week later, Mr. White wakes to find himself alone in bed. He finds Mrs. White standing by the window, sobbing, and he asks her to come back to bed because... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
Mr. White hesitates, saying that Mrs. White must be crazy, but she says that their first wish came true so their second... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
...of “his mutilated son before him,” Mr. White finds the paw and brings it to Mrs. White . Her face, “white and expectant,” frightens him, as she begins to cry out, “Wish!”... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
...comes from the front door, shocking Mr. White. He hears another knock, and then another. Mrs. White sits up, asking what that noise was. Mr. White claims that it is just a... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
Mr. White begs Mrs. White not to let “it” in. She breaks free from his grasp and runs to the... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
...paw. Frantically, he makes his third and final wish. The knocking ceases and he hears Mrs. White open the door. (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
Mr. White hears Mrs. White cry out in “disappointment and misery” and he feels brave enough to run to her... (full context)