The theme of "The Monkey's Paw," a short story by W.W. Jacobs, is the danger of wish fulfillment and interfering with fate. In this supernatural tale first published in 1902, a family tampers with fate and pays an enormous price.
The story's main character, an elderly man named Mr. White, is told of a monkey's paw that has the power to grant three wishes. Despite being warned about the mysterious talisman, he gains access to the paw and wishes for money. His son then dies in an accident, and the family is given the money they wished for.
This event emphasizes the story's theme, which is that greed and lust for something you don't need can lead to tragic consequences. The tale continues with the fulfillment of two additional wishes due to the supernatural force of the monkey's paw. The mysterious paw had a spell put on it by a holy man in India who wanted people to understand the negative results of wish fulfillment.
Jacobs' tale is considered to be a classic work of literature reminiscent of biblical stories such as that of Adam and Eve, who are tempted by satanic powers. The story is also often compared to horror tales written by Edgar Allan Poe due to the supernatural quality of the monkey's paw, which is the central motif of the story.