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The Monkey's Paw Lesson Plans


Many tales have been told about people who tried to change the course of their lives by interfering with fate’s plans, and the dire consequences that result. “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs examines how one man’s curiosity and desire to have more than he needs results in disastrous ramifications. Many students will already be familiar with similar wishing traditions, such as wishing upon a star, making a birthday wish, or throwing a coin into a fountain. While people often think of the possibilities of such wishes coming true, they don’t often think about the potential pitfalls that could happen instead. “The Monkey’s Paw” is a frightening tale that examines important themes such as what can happen when we try to interfere with fate, and the dangers of what happens when we follow our curiosity just a little too far. When fate’s plans get interrupted, it makes sure to restore that balance – at a price.

Student Activities for The Monkey's Paw Include:




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Essential Questions for “The Monkey’s Paw”

  1. Is life controlled by fate or free will?
  2. Why is it important to be satisfied with what we have?
  3. How can curiosity be dangerous?
  4. Why are people drawn to the unknown and magical possibilities?
  5. Why is it important to think about consequences before taking an action?

Fate in Other Cultures

Have students research some of the different ways fate/destiny has been depicted in other cultures, and the role fate plays in their folklore, religious observances, and daily life.

Fate is a concept that has been revered and feared in other cultures across the world. It has many different names:

  • The Fates: Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos (Greeks)
  • Fortuna (Romans)
  • Fortuna and her Rota Fortunae (wheel of fortune) (Medieval Europe)
  • The Norns (Norse mythology)
  • Yuanfen (China)
  • Good Luck (Modern Western ideology)

Image Attributions
  • Gorilla • Steve Snodgrass • License Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
  • Itwaari Bazaar Wallah • Meanest Indian • License Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
  • knight • narzissysiphus • License Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
  • Mr silence • (: Rebecca-louise :) • License Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
  • Okinawan talisman • jetalone • License Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)


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